Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Pottery Barn Desk Reveal and $50 cash GIVEAWAY!!

Rhett and I have become mall rats. 

Arizona is still 95 degrees or above and that's better than 117 degrees, but still too hot to spend a lot of time outside. 

So we go play at the mall. Rhett has his play place and I have mine...Pottery Barn. 

I love sitting on their chairs and ogling over their lampshades and pillows and, well everything. 

One thing I love most about their furniture is how natural it is with its stains and finishes.

So when we picked up this piece it was so obvious that no paint would touch it. 

The desk was weather beaten, dirty and kind of crusty. 
But as we started sanding we discovered a diamond in the rough. 

After some wood oil and a little stain we saw this. 

It is probably one of my favorite pieces. 

I seriously feel smarter when I sit in front of her. 

Ahh the power of beautiful furniture. :)

Staining can be more difficult than painting, but the outcome is usually stunning and timeless. 

PS I'll be doing a post next week on some tips for working with stain. 

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


And now for the GIVEAWAY!!

$50 CASH 

Yes, seriously cash. For you! 

Why? Because we love you! 

For each of the following, you get one entry. 

( Please make sure to leave a separate comment for each entry }

1. Follow 551 East

2. Put our button on your blog for 2 EXTRA entries.

3.  Post about the giveaway on your Facebook

4. Post about the giveaway on your blog

5. Like us on Facebook

And that's all! 

The giveaway will run until Monday October 3rd with a winner announced that evening.

Good luck!! 

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An ode (and tips) to working with Milk Paint

An Ode to Milk Paint

Milk paint, milk paint

you are incredibly GREAT.

Even though I don't like cows milk I'll give you an 8!

You are probably my new favorite and you've earned my love,

and the fact that you're cheaper than ASCP means I think you're sent from above. 

Milk paint, milk paint,

let work together again soon! 

And restore enough furniture to fill a big room. :) 


I know, I know, you are all probably rolling your eyes.

My husband is. 

But SERIOUSLY, I can't say enough good things about Milk Paint.

I used it on the secretary and the organ desk (which will be revealed soon) and the results were perfect.

So here is the low down on Milk Paint!

What is Milk Paint?

Milk paint is not a latex or oil based's water based. That means that it won't give you a totally uniform color on the piece you're painting. It's really incredible the depth it adds. (Go here for more info.) 

How is Milk Paint packaged?

Milk paint comes in 2 forms, powder or pre mixed. There are pros and cons to using both. In powder form you are adding the water to create the consistency you want. Obviously this can be great because you can experiment with different looks. However if you're a first time user I suggest using the pre mixed Milk Paint. Because it is so different from latex and oil it simplifies the use if you can take mixing it out of the equation.

What about priming or sanding?

This is one of the best parts of using milk paint! You need minimal, and I mean minimal, of both. I suggest roughing up the piece if it already has a stain on it and if you are using any of the shades of white you might want to prime a little if you are using it on a piece with a really dark stain. I did have some problems with the stain bleeding through the white milk paint, but after about 4 coats the bleeding wasn't a problem.

What other products do they offer?

There is a bonding agent that you can brush on before applying the paint which will help the paint adhere to the sufrace. If you buy the powder version, buy the bonding agent as well. However the premixed paint has some of the bonding agent in it. I had no problems with the premixed paint adhering to the surface without the bonding agent.

They also have products to give your piece a crackled look, they have amazing glazes and sealers as well.

What color options do they have?

Here is one of their color cards. They have about 40 colors and wil the glazes they offer you can create tons of looks. The paint also mixes really well to help you create custom colors.

How much does Milk Paint cost?
If you buy the powder form it's $11. The premixed Milk Paint is $13 for a pint. Obviously depending on how thin/thick you mix the powder form equates to how much paint you get from the package, but it should equal a pint. Glazes, crackle, and bonding agents etc around $10 to $15.

How far does the paint go?
I was impressed. You will probably need at least 2 coats, I used 3, and I still have just under have a pint left. The glaze goes REALLY far.

Does it distress well?
Yes! It was super easy and it is fantastic for giving an aged look.

This is a really basic overview of the product and if you want more info here is a link to their website. (You can also find distributors there.)

All opinions are mine and I was not compensated in anyway for this post. 
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I REALLY love this one!

Last night, in a slightly desperate attempt to make new friends, we went to play a pick up game of soccer with some people from church. 

We don't play soccer. 

But we really need to be social. 
We're social butterflies, we need to spread our wings and fly.

OK that was super cheesy, but it has been a little hard moving and leaving a great group of friends. 

Anyway, I'm sitting here, very aware that I have a bum because it is SO sore, and I am really excited to show you the secretary. 


I love her curves, I love her storage, I love her little compartments, I love how bright she is.
And for being so classy, I think she's even kind of sexy. :)

We used General Finishes Milk Paint in Basil, glazed her with snow white and distressed her along the edges of the drawers and frame. The hardware is original legs are new. 

I was really impressed with the milk paint and I'll share some tips next week. :)

She'll be at the Vintage Market this Saturday in Scottsdale. 

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

Linking to these parties

Be sure to check out our $50 GIVEAWAY!!
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Starting Out: Not your average advice

Over the past 2 weeks I've gotten several emails asking how to start a business/blog. I'm flattered because I haven't been doing this for very long. Sometimes though, I think that when you're first starting out everything is fresh in your mind. Some of the best advice I've gotten is from those who were in the same positon I was.

So here are some things I've learned. Most aren't traditional bits of advice, but things that I still think are important to consider.

1. You'll have to let some things go. If you are serious about starting a sustainable business, some parts of your life are going to have fall to the back burner. Decide what your priorities are. With that said, even your biggest priorities can quickly move to second place. This might sound bad, but there are some days when I really have to make an effort to remove myself from sanding, blogging, emailing, etc to go play with Rhett- even though I adore him. I promise you your house will be dirtier, you will probably lose a few pounds because meal time becomes more sporadic, and you won't sleep as much. With that said, you will find a rhythm and even though you'll just keep getting busier, you will find a way to manage it.    

2. You're going to need $$$, no matter what kind of business you're starting. It doesn't need to be a ton, but if you are serious about becoming big, you'll need some. We started out investing $350 of our own money into 551 East. We bought some furniture, paint, sander paper, a paint sprayer, sanding block etc. Now when we sell a piece the profit goes into one account and the cost money goes into another. That way we always have that $350 to keep investing in 551 East.  If you are also trying to build a blog you'll need money to either use for sponsorships on other blogs to get your name out there, or you'll want to host giveaways to build your readership. Most likely you'll need to host your first couple giveaways so you'll need to provide something to give away. A side note about this. Make sure what you are giving away will attract the most types of readers. We did a $25 dollar cash giveaway at the beginning and it produced a great increase in following. I'm not saying that this is the best way to do anything, but it worked for us. If you don't have cash to invest, DON'T GO INTO DEBT. Because there is absolutely no guarantee that your blog/business will work, you don't want a credit card debt. Start with what you have. Talk to family or friends if you need a little cash, but if others are going to invest in you, be worth investing in.

3. Plan to spend a decent amount of time in front of a computer. When I started 551 East, one reason was  because I felt like I was spending too much time on the computer and I wanted a hobby/outlet. Ha! You'll spend a lot of time trying to create the look of your blog, commenting on other blogs to get your name out, posting, researching, editing, responding to emails, sending thank yous, etc etc etc.

4. You won't be able to do it alone. Have the support of your spouse or a great friend. You have a lot of work ahead of you. You probably will be giving up some social time, conversation on subjects other than your business, and you'll need someone to bounce ideas off of. A supportive influence is worth so so much.

5. You're going to need to become proficient in more ways than you're anticipating. Probably the biggest shock to me was how tech savvy I was going to become. You'll need to be able to see ahead and anticipate what you need to be doing, before you need to create it/post it/ say it. You'll need to to learn how to take quality pictures, how to market, how to budget, how to produce quality products, etc. It's still a sharp learning curve for me, but you learn quickly from your mistakes.

6. Be relatable and personal. I don't necessarily mean that you have to tell your life story, but let people get to know you. I personally think it's OK to occasionally combine business and family. Show people that you have a life outside your business. And this will also help you keep your life from being overtaken by starting a business. Help people feel something and you can make some real friends through it.

7. Find what makes you different. We chose to put a picture of me on our masthead because almost no other blogs in our sphere had anything like that. Don't copy other people. Use them for inspiration, but create your own style.

8. Dream BIG. Do I want my own show on HGTV showing people how to thrift and repurpose furniture? Heck yes! Am I a tiny little blog in a world full of people more talented and knowledgeable than me? Heck yes! And that's OK. One day I want to be as talented as Miss Mustard Seed or Made by Girl or Miss James at Bleubird Vintage. And one day I will be. :) But if I'm not, I'm Ok with that.

9. Know why you want to do this. Write it down so you remember. Be determined.

10. Don't be afraid, but know you'll make mistakes. It's OK. Everyone will do it. It's frustrating to know you've lost resources and time, so learn and move on.

11. Get your name out there. This is an ongoing process. Follow other peoples blogs, leave LOTS of comments, join link parties, start a Facebook page, ask people to guest post for you and if you can guest post for them, have giveaways, create a button for your blog, and ask you friends and family to put your posts etc on their Facebook page, email, blog whatever. 

12. Always say thank you. This is SO important. If someone leaves you a comment, send an email or comment on their blog. Kindness goes along way.

I hope this helps! I love doing this and I'm so grateful for those who have supported us. :) 

P.S. Here's a sneak peak on a piece I'll post this evening. 

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Monday, September 12, 2011

A Pineapple Headboard

I've wanted to find a pineapple headboard for a long time.

I wanted one so bad I might have become a pineapple stalker, calling local thrift stores, pulling over at every garage sale, looking in peoples bedroom windows to see if I could buy theirs. 

OK not the last one, but if I hadn't found this one when I did I might have started peeping. :)

Here's the before. 

And here she is now.  

The original headboard had a beautiful stain- a deep mahogany. I didn't want to completely lose it so I tried something a little different. I sanded the headboard enough for the paint to hold to, but I left most of the deep color. When I was painting some of the stain would peep through the red, usually on edges and the curves. I LOVE the aged look it added.   

She's a twin headboard, painted in Forbidden Red by Behr and waxed with Howard's Citrus Shield. 
For more info, look at the For Sale tab at the top of the page. 

P.S. She'll be at by booth at the Vintage Market THIS Saturday.
And keep checking back, I'm staging several other pieces today and I'll post them over the next few days.  
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My first hate mail

Yesterday I got a rather unkind comment on one of the pieces we recently finished. And to some extent that's fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and you don't have to love or even like everything we create. 

(And honestly I was a little excited for this to happen. I felt like it would mean I had officially entered the blogging world.)

I'm choosing not to remove that unkind comment, or any others that may follow. If the language in them is offensive then I'll take it off, but if you are simply rude it will remain on here for everyone to see how ungracious you were. I'm choosing to do this because I want to remain real, honest and I understand that not everything in life is kind or pleasant. 

I would like to say this though. You did hurt my feelings with your choice of words. I'm fine with the fact that you did not like that piece and advice is always appreciated, but what you said was unladylike and uncalled for.  I hope that you will not continue to spread your meanness to others who work hard to create and cultivate things of beauty.  I would hate to see another nasty comment from you on a friends blog and I hope you will think twice before leaving such a comment again.  

This thought summarizes what I am saying- 

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
                                                                                                                             - Leo Buscaglia

On the flip side, I want to sincerely thank each of you who leaves kind, thoughtful and uplifting comments.
 They make my day. :) 
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Staged to Sell

Staging is one of my favorite steps of the furniture refinishing process. Maybe this will sound funny, but even though I'm the one working on the piece, I am still surprised at the final product.  And when we go to stage, I feel like it's the first time I see the piece in its full element.

Staging can be so frustrating in some ways. You could have a fantastic vision in your head, set it up, take the picture, and then look at the photo...and it looks like poo. Or in other words not like what you you had envisioned.

I usually delete the poo pictures so I don't have any of those to share. But I promise they were poo.

Here are some personal tips on how to stage to sell a piece or just to show it off.

1. Lighting! This might be the most important tip to making a piece stand out. Photoshop can really help lighten and soften your image, but it carries a hefty price tag and still can't compete with natural light. If you feel comfortable using freeware there is a program called Gimp which is similar to Photoshop.  

If you don't want to use software the best tip is to use natural light. Set your camera to the "no flash" setting or if you know how then use manual. Flash will wash out your piece, distort the color, and often leave a lovely glare. Natural light is less harsh and more accurate. Still, you need ALOT of it so try to stage your piece near windows and at peak hours of sunlight. 

2. A lot of us live in homes or apartments that we are still fixing up or where we don't have the option of changing the (stark white) wall color; so finding a great background isn't always easy. And that's OK! All of these where taken in front our oh so very white walls. 

If your walls are a bland color, accessorize your piece with bold or bright colors. Try bringing in other furniture that adds color or texture.

3. And that brings me to point number three. Don't be afraid to think outside the box. The desk at the top left wasn't working till we added the pears. The dresser next to it was staged in the kitchen. And I was convinced that the 6 drawer dresser needed to be staged as an entry table. Obviously I was wrong. :) Also look for areas to photograph that might not be your first thought. For example, I used our bright red door for this end table.

4. Use what you have. When I was trying to stage the Peacock desk, I spent an afternoon running around trying to find the perfect decor to stage it. In the end I ended up just taking a picture and being OK with the fact that I couldn't make it look the way I wanted it too. And ultimately I wanted the color to be the center of the show.

5.  Lastly, remember you are trying to sell/show your piece, not your accessories. In other words, most of the time less is more with staging.

That's all! 

P.S. I've been loving everything that I've been seeing on reader! 
You all are producing some amazing stuff!

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