Mercury Glass Look-alike Ornaments

This post should be subtitled “The Accidental Artist.” When I set out on this project, I just meant to repaint some old ornaments I had. Along the way, some of them turned out with a lovely mercury glass look that was an unexpected and pleasant surprise, since I have been coveting those baubles but holding off on buying them, since glass and toddlers do not mix. I wouldn’t normally have bothered painting these inexpensive plastic ornaments at all, but since I had the supplies already, I thought I might as well, and it turned out to be a good thing!

This mercury glass look-alike finish is easy to create with spray paints and makes charming Christmas ornaments.  {Jewels at Home}

I had a lot of simple red and gold ornaments left over from the Chinese “Red Egg and Ginger” party I organized for J a couple of years ago. I’ll have to blog about that later! This year, I’m trying for a red, turquoise, silver, and white -themed Christmas, so I decided to repaint some of the gold and red balls to turquoise and silver. I had plenty of other red ones.

I taped the balls upside down on some scrap cardboard with painter’s tape, sprayed a coat of primer and then a few coats of paint. The turquoise paint was initially intended for an old wooden chest. This color was actually too bright for the chest, but it came in useful here. The silver (soon to be “mercury glass”) ornaments were painted with Rustoleum metallic paint in “chrome.” I’ve been in the lookout for Krylon’s “Looking Glass” paint, and I have yet to find it in a local store, but the Rustoleum metallic chrome seems similar and has a very reflective silver finish. I would have been happy to leave the ornaments silver, but I thought I would do a clear topcoat to help protect them from chipping. The clear spray I happened to have in the garage is a lacquer, which might have more solvent in it than a regular spray paint. In any case, it left tiny dull spots on the chrome, and for a split second, I was disappointed, but I’m now as pleased as (Christmas) punch, because they have a great faux mercury glass look!

Here’s how I painted the ornaments:

Tutorial on repainting your Christmas ornaments for a fresh look, including a faux mercury glass technique!  {Jewels at Home}

An easy combination of these two spray paints will give you a beautiful faux mercury glass look for your Christmas ornaments or other projects!  {Jewels at Home}

An easy combination of these two spray paints will give you a beautiful faux mercury glass look for your Christmas ornaments or other projects!

Here are some more pictures of the “mercury glass” ornaments. They are not perfect, and I’m eager to try more of the faux mercury glass techniques out there, but as accidents go, this one was very happy (much happier than some of the mishaps that have not ended up on the blog!).

Create this mercury glass look-alike finish using spray paints. {Jewels at Home}

Create this mercury glass look-alike finish using spray paints. {Jewels at Home}

Create this mercury glass look-alike finish using spray paints. {Jewels at Home}

I’m definitely getting that festive holiday feeling! How about you?


Stairway Makeover – Step by Step

I give my hubby a lot of credit for seeing the potential in our current house. While I’m incredibly grateful to have a comfortable home to live in, it has been a long process for me to actually come to love the look of the place. There was a lot of pink, red, gold, and heavy ornate-ness that we’ve been slowly replacing. I think the recent work by our painters was the tipping point for me. I can now truly say that it is a pleasure to walk in the house and see these stairs.

Updating a stairway step by step from Jewels at Home.

As you can see, a lot has changed since the (blurry – sorry, I had to enlarge it to focus on the stairs) real estate picture was taken. We started by changing the light fixtures from crystal chandeliers and sconces to more architectural fixtures, and we replaced the red and grungy carpet with a brown textured wool with a sage green twill binding.

This fall, our painters Joe and Jose (yes, they know they have the same name), helped with a new wall color – Manchester Tan from Benjamin Moore – and painting the stair risers white to match the trim. After they were done, I also spray-painted the metal carpet rods, covering up the tarnished brass with satin black.

The easier thing would definitely have been to paint the risers before the carpet runner was installed, but sometimes inspiration does not come in an orderly way.. So Joe and Jose patiently taped off all the carpet, sanded the risers, primed and painted them.

20120823-213845.jpgTo paint stair risers after a runner is installed, you'll have to tape off the runner thoroughly.

To paint stair risers after a runner is installed, you’ll have to tape off the runner thoroughly, before sanding, priming, and painting the wood.

As for the carpet rods, I considered replacing them, but these innocent-looking pieces of metal are actually very expensive, at $40 plus a set, so a little but of work went a long way. I sanded, primed, and spray painted them a satin black finish to match the wrought iron balusters. I decided to leave the brackets on while painting, which held the rods off the cardboard surface. However, this did mean that I had to shift the brackets between coats, so no areas were missed, and it took a lot of coats. I would recommend lining the rods up very close to each other when painting, so each pass with the spray paint will cover multiple rods.

Update your carpet rods with a fresh coat of paint.  From Jewels at Home.

After I re-installed the carpet rods, the screws were still brass. Luckily, I had watched a wrought iron handrail get installed in our old house, and I saw that the installer painted the screws by spraying matching paint into a cup and then painting it on the screws. I used a cotton swab for this.

Tip for painting screws with spray paint.  Jewels at Home.

I did have a debate about whether to put the carpet rods back on at all. They’re decorative, not functional. I think they make the stairs look more formal and traditional, while they look a bit more contemporary without the rods. I put them back, at least for now, because they do a hide some staples and raw edges on the carpet. What do you think?

A bare runner looks more contemporary, while carpet rods give a more formal look.  Which do you prefer?

A bare runner looks more contemporary, while carpet rods give a more formal look. Which do you prefer?

Finally, we’re not really statue people, so I decided to fill the spaces on and around the stairs with orchids and houseplants instead. Here’s how our finished space looks. Ahhhh….

A classic stairway with a new look. Walls are Manchester Tan from Benjamin Moore. From Jewels at Home.

A classic stairway with a new look. Walls are Manchester Tan from Benjamin Moore. From Jewels at Home.

A classic stairway with a new look. Walls are Manchester Tan from Benjamin Moore. From Jewels at Home.

And one last before-and-after look, so we can put the memories of the old stairway behind us!A classic stairway with a new look. Walls are Manchester Tan from Benjamin Moore. From Jewels at Home.


Faux Bamboo Fetish – Dining Room Sideboard

I recently became obsessed with the look of vintage faux bamboo dressers, like those made by Thomasville or Henry Link in the 60s and 70s. These dressers have come back into fashion, repainted for a gorgeous new look. I see them on eBay and Etsy regularly, but with the shipping costs from across the country, it doesn’t seem quite worth it. I’m also nervous about taking on such a big project. As Ibie, whose dresser is in the second picture below, chronicles on her blog, the painting process on such a large piece is not for the fainthearted.

Here are some of the beautiful makeovers that caught my eye:

Callie's black dresser featured on Little Green Notebook

Callie’s black dresser featured on Little Green Notebook. I love the glossy black finish, and the rest of this room is fantastic, too!

Go to Little Green Notebook

Ibie's grey Henry Link dresser on One Story Building

Ibie’s grey Henry Link dresser on One Story Building. This looks so sophisticated and elegant! I certainly believe her that it was a bear to paint, though.

Go to One Story Building

I still have this project in the back of my mind, and I occasionally look around on Craigslist, eBay, and Etsy for that perfect dresser to repaint, but for now, I’m happy with an easier update to our old dresser. This is actually an inexpensive piece that we bought a decade ago. We almost got rid of it a couple of years back, but no one on Craigslist even wanted it, so we decided to repair all the sagging drawer bottoms, and I’m so glad that it has a new life as the sideboard in our dining room.

BEFORE: Old dresser we are using as a sideboard.

BEFORE: Old dresser we are using as a sideboard.

The hardware we had on there is a little rustic for our space, so I decided to give those old knobs a new life down at my dad’s beach house and replace the hardware with – what else – faux bamboo pulls! I chose this Belwith Bamboo Collection black nickel cabinet pull
, and there were several others out there that also look great, and I put some of my favorites on Pinterest.

Belwith Bamboo Pull

Belwith Bamboo Pull

Since the new pulls need two holes, I had to drill new ones. TIP: I used a piece of a piece of painter’s taped marked with the distance between the holes, so I could quickly measure and drill.

TIP: mark the distance between holes for cabinet hardware on a piece of painter's tape.  From Jewels at Home.

TIP: mark the distance between holes for cabinet hardware on a piece of painter’s tape.

And here’s the “new” old dresser. No, it’s not as stunning as an old Regency dresser painted in an elegant new color, but it was quick, easy, and inexpensive.

New faux bamboo hardware gives an old dresser new life.

New faux bamboo hardware gives our old dresser new life.

New hardware gives an old dresser new life.


I’m happy with the result of this little project, and will still keep my eye out for something perfect.



Powder Room Reveal – Tiny Silver Gem

I am so pleased to finally show you our new powder room! It took longer than I anticipated, but it turned out just as I hoped. I used lots of silver in this small space, to make it feel brighter.

Powder Room by Jewels at Home 1

The finished powder room has lots of bright and elegant details, like the Imperial Trellis wallpaper and new chair rail.

We did not want the hassle or the expense of a full renovation, so I did not take out the walls or floor, even though they were far from perfect.  I worked with what we had and

I’m very happy with the result. Before, the room felt unfinished (because, as hubby points out, it was unfinished) and plain. I  would actually avoid it and go upstairs to a “real” bathroom. Now, it’s still small, but it feels polished and pretty, and I occasionally peek in just to take a look (okay, that won’t go on for long, I hope).

Vanity area before

BEFORE: The whole room was very white – blah – with dated gold-tone fixtures.

I got the help of a handyman to change out the old pedestal sink for this new vanity.  Our half bath is very small, so I looked for a long time to find a small vanity that didn’t feel undersized.  I am happy with the look and functionality of this Covus vanity found on Overstock.  The new towel bar and toilet paper holder add a shiny touch in polished chrome.  The art is a print from an Henry Evans calendar (more of those to see in upcoming posts, too).  I picked the color of the flower and picture mat to tie in the old floor colors.  The frame was a thrift store find and brings more silver into the room.

Here are some more views of the finished room:

Powder Room by Jewels at Home

Powder Room by Jewels at Home 3

Powder Room by Jewels at Home

I’m very relieved to have this powder room off the to-do list.  It was getting embarrassing!  Now, I can get on to some more fun projects that I’ll post soon.


Stenciling on Fabric – Lampshade and Pillow

Have you seen these fabulous pendant light drum shades at Room and Board? I’ve been drooling over them for years, with all the gorgeous prints and colors. They’re a splurge at several hundred dollars a shade, but they are really beautiful. Go check out all the beautiful and funky prints they have!

Zinnia Cool Pendant

Galbraith & Paul drum shade from Room and Board in Zinnia Cool pattern.

As always, I was wondering if I could make something like this myself, and in browsing ideas, I found some great examples, including this one from Laura at Some Kind of Lovely Ride. She did a beautiful job on her shade and had great instructions that helped me conquer my apprehension about this project!

laura's lamp

Yellow floral stencils on a lampshade by Laura at Some Kind of Lovely Ride. A perfect DIY inpsiration!

I was so excited to get started, I rushed to the craft store to pick up my supplies and get to work! I stenciled the lampshade in my craft studio and while I was at it, I also stenciled a piece of fabric for a throw pillow. I used Laura’s basic instructions and discovered a few tips along the way, so here’s how it went:



Supplies for stenciling on fabric.

  • Stencils – I used Mini Peony and Mini Mums by The Crafter’s Workshop.
  • Stencil brushes or sponges – These sponge “pouncers” are inexpensive, easy to use, and washable for reuse.
  • Paint – I had a variety of acrylic craft paint around, and I did mix some to get the colors I wanted. It’s optional, but I also added some “textile medium” to my paint, which makes the paint more flexible when dried. This wouldn’t be an issue for the shade, but I thought it would help on the pillow. I mixed the paints in paper bowls.
  • Tape – I used painter’s tape to hold the stencil in place and mask off any areas of the stencil I didn’t want to use.


Basic stencil:

  • Tape the stencil securely in place
  • Put a small amount of paint on your pouncer. If you load on too much paint, it will run under the stencil and smudge your pattern.
  • Lightly dab through the stencil, moving only up and down. Don’t brush side to side, as this will also make paint run under the stencil.
  • Carefully remove the stencil and blot the back on a clean piece of paper to remove any excess paint
  • Repeat!

Tape your stencil in place and lightly dab on the paint.

Adding a color:

  • Wait until the first color is completely dry.
  • If you are going to overlap designs, like I did, think ahead about which color you want to be “on top” and start with the colors that are on the bottom.

Finishing the fabric:

  • This is not necessary for a shade, but for a pillow or other fabric that will be touched and possibly washed, you’ll want to set the paint. When the paint is thoroughly dry, iron the stenciled fabric from the reverse side with a dry iron on medium-high for three to five minutes to set the colors. You can repeat this on the front, laying a thin cloth over the stenciled fabric, so the paint doesn’t stick to your iron.

Finished stencils!

Here is how the shade looked before:


A simple drum shade. Pretty, but I wanted to add some color!

And here’s the finished shade:


Drum shade transformed with floral stencils in blue, green, and silver. I dare say, I like this better than the inspiration shade!


The random pattern of stencils gives a different look from every side. And it makes it easier, because you don’t have to worry about lining up the pattern.


Lit up at night. No, I’m not tired of looking at it. Can you tell?

Here’s the finished fabric. I’ve got a lot of pillow projects lined up, so I should work on those soon!


The stenciled fabric, on the bottom, will be a throw pillow for the daybed. The colors coordinate with the hydrangea print paper I found. I’m making desk accessories and some other projects with the paper.


This project is shared at:
The Shabby Nest

Ikea Dining Chairs All Grown Up – Craftsman and Regency Makeovers

No doubt it’s lovely to buy something new for your house, but it can also be fun when furniture you have had for a long time takes on new forms and uses.

Hubby and I first bought these chairs from Ikea thirteen years ago when we were living on the other side of the continent. There were four of them in birch with white seats around a small matching kitchen table in our apartment. Over the years, we accumulated more from Ikea and then through Craigslist, when Ikea stopped making them. Our collection of twelve chairs has moved across the country and through several houses with us. They’ve held up wonderfully as our everyday dining chairs for thirteen years!

I can’t dig up a good picture of the way the set originally looked, but I’ll keep an eye out for it. Meanwhile, I found this old stock photo on the internet.

original ikea chair

This is the original chair we bought from Ikea in birch, tough ours had white seats. I can’t remember its cute Swedish name, but I think it started with “A.”

Ikea borje chair

Ikea Borje chair.  A current model that has a somewhat similar look.

The cute birch table with a glass top met an untimely end (long story), and we replaced it with an Arts and Crafts/ Craftsman/ Mission style cherry wood table. At that time, I put slipcovers in the chairs, since they didn’t match.

Arts and Crafts Makeover:

Three or four years ago, I was shopping for chairs to go with the Arts and Crafts style dining table, when I realized the solution was right beneath my nose! I still liked the elegant geometric lines of the Ikea chairs, which I think are reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps the most well known architect of the Arts and Crafts movement. It was just the light color of the wood that didn’t work. Staining the chairs would have involved stripping the finish and trying to match the color. Even if i had been able to do that perfectly – and that is not likely – the grain of the woods would still not have matched.

In any case, it really isn’t necessary to have chairs that match your table – nor nightstands that match your bed. It actually looks so much more interesting to mix and match. The chairs at the head of our dining table are not the same as the side chairs, either, and I feel it all works together.

So, our chairs that started as Scandinavian modern evolved to Arts and Crafts with new black paint (tips on painting in an earlier post) and tan microfiber suede seats. Microfiber suede, also called faux suede or ultrasuede, has a nice soft texture but is extremely durable and washable – I have scrubbed these seats with a soapy kitchen sponge on more than one occasion, and they end up looking as good as new. There are microsuedes intended specifically for upholstery that have a backing to give this soft material a lot more structure. If you can find this, it’s highly recommended! Four of the chairs with the tan seats are at our games table, which is our original cherry dining table, in the family room.

ikea to arts and crafts

The first makeover: I adapted our modern Scandinavian chairs to go with an Arts and Crafts style table by painting then black and adding tan faux suede seat fabric.

games table

A round games table in the family room is perfect for art projects and board games with the kids. The tan microfiber seats hold up very well!

Regency Makeover:

We move way too often, but I do like the opportunity to change the design of our rooms. We still have some great Arts and Crafts furniture, but I wanted to brighten up our home and incorporate more contemporary and Asian elements. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m trying to develop a bit of a Hollywood Regency/ Chinoiserie feel in our new living-dining room, and I love that these familiar old chairs have been able to come along for the ride.

So, in our current home, I’ve changed the seats on the majority of the chairs to a whimsical Chinoiserie print in blue and cream: Robert Allen Lake Paradise in spa, an outdoor fabric that’s durable and wipeable. These are chairs that are used daily – including by the kids – and I just didn’t think that ordinary fabric would hold up. The polyester is not as soft as a nice upholstery cotton, but our bottoms haven’t minded. I showed how to upholster the seats in earlier post. Start looking around, and you’ll find that outdoor fabrics now come in almost any color, pattern, or texture. Many great fabric designers have beautiful prints meant to stand up to the outdoors, often including some of the same patterns they have in their indoor collections and more!

ikea to regency chair

Another step in the evolution of our old Ikea chairs. This new fabric gives them an elegant yet whimsical feel that fits in with the Chinoiserie/ Regency look I am working on in our living-dining room.

Dining Room with painted and reupholstered chairs by Jewels at Home

Dining Room with new chairs. The space is still a work in progress.

Dining Room with painted and reupholstered chairs by Jewels at Home

Dining room from the other side. I’m happy with the wallpaper inside the shelves.

The dining room is starting to come together. I do like how the Imperial Trellis silver wallpaper looks inside the bookcase. Now that I look at the collection of plates again, I think I could use a couple more. I also want to make over or replace the sideboard. My fantasy is to find an old Thomasville or Henry Link Bali Hai dresser with faux bamboo accents to repaint for that area. And most of all, I would love to change the fireplace mantel. It is plaster with a cheesy faux marble finish, and there are two disembodied heads that stare out at you! Part of me wants to take the whole thing out, but since it’s historical, I might keep it and try to remove the heads and repaint it. I’d also like to do a few small projects like recover or replace the cushions on the head chairs, sew a runner for the sideboard, work on accessories, etc.. Well, one thing at a time. I’m having fun every step of the way!


Silver Spray Paints – DIY Apothecary Jar and Painted Screen

Spray paint itself is an amazing product – goes on quickly and evenly for a smooth finish. Metallic spray paint takes the level of wonder a step higher. I have been experimenting with two paints from Krylon’s Special Purpose Metallics line that I found at our neighborhood hardware store, and I think I’m addicted!

Dull Aluminum (1403) is what I used on the little box from the rummage sale. Despite its name, I don’t find it dull. It gives a cool grey/silver finish that looks like it’s painted – okay, I know that sounds obvious, but I mention it in contrast to the Bright Silver (1401), which looks more like a real metal finish.

metallic spray paints

Projects using Krylon “Dull Aluminum” and “Bright Silver” paints.

Here are some projects I’ve tried with each, and I’m already thinking about what to do next. Let me know if you have suggestions!

Bright Silver Paint
I’ve been trying to find more projects that reuse old things. Recycling is great, but it still uses a lot of energy and produces waste. Reusing is good for our planet and our pocketbooks, too! The challenge is to find projects that reuse old items but don’t look like a preschool art project!

This idea for a DIY apothecary jar is not original to me. I’ve seen it in several places, including Parties for Pennies.

DIY apothecary jar

DIY apothecary jar made from a used jar, a cabinet knob, and metallic spray paint.

You will need:

  • glass jar with lid
  • cabinet knob with bolt
  • washer
  • drill
  • sandpaper
  • spray primer
  • metallic spray paint
  • clear finish spray

1. Sand the lid to roughen it up for the paint to stick.

2. Drill a hole in the center of the lid

3. Insert the the bolt and washer from under the lid and screw on the knob

4. Spray primer, then paint (2 coats), and seal with a clear finish. Let each coat dry before continuing.


Another view of a DIY apothecary jar made from a used jar, a cabinet knob, and spray paint.

It’s such a creative and satisfying project. We use jars all the time, and I have a ton of knobs leftover from replacing the dated brass and black ones in our kitchen, so I’m thinking of making lots of these as gifts!

Dull Aluminum Paint

I used this paint on a couple of projects recently. This is actually a pretty silver-colored paint; I don’t like the word “dull” in it’s name! The first was for painting this box I picked up for five dollars at a rummage sale:

side table styling

This dull old box was painted silver with Krylon Dull Aluminum paint and looks beautiful in our living room!

I also used this more muted (I refuse to call it dull!) metallic paint to finish off a screen I was painting to hang in our master bathroom. This was an example of “the third time’s a charm.” I started with the bare wood screen, and hoped to use it that way, but it was just too rough and unfinished. Next, I painted it a pale blue (Swept Away by Benjamin Moore), which I had leftover from painting our kids’ bath and also used to paint another screen. The blue paint was an improvement, but it still felt unfinished, so I masked off the center and sprayed the border in silver. Sometimes, it takes a few tries to get the look you want, but it was worth it!

painted screen

It took a few tries to get the look I wanted for this screen. The silver spray paint really makes it feel elegant and finished!

painted blue and silver screen

A closer view of the finished screen in blue and silver.

These metallic paints are really so easy to use for a spectacular effect. Some other great uses I’ve seen and would love to try are:

  • spray branches for a vase arrangement
  • spray a decorative tray
  • spray ceramic vases or bowls for display
  • make pendants out of clay – thumbprints, engraved words, etc. and spray with silver, so they look like stamped metal
  • more DIY apothecary jars for sure!


This project is shared at:

Chair Makeover: The Queen’s New Clothes

I have a confession: I am in love… with my newly made-over chairs.

I like a lot of classic furniture, but I never was interested in traditional ornate wooden chairs. The curves and details just didn’t do it for me… until I saw how fabulous they can look when painted in a fresh color! Here are some of the inspirations that made my heart go pitter-patter.

A fresh-looking chair in grey with a white and green seat by Molly at the Nesting Game. Click the picture to see the details on her blog.

Go to The Nesting Game

Gold leaf and blue chair

Kate at Centsational Girl has so many great ideas for furniture makeovers, including this sweet desk chair in blue with gold leaf.

Go to Centsational Girl

When I saw these chairs, I desperately and urgently wanted to make my own! And I could not believe my luck when, on the first day I looked, I found someone giving away two Queen Anne chairs for free on Craigslist. The chairs are not vintage, but all the better, so I needn’t feel guilty about painting them. The guy who was giving them away had several other pieces of furniture for free that had all been victims of his cat, as you can see in the “before” picture.

Queen Anne Before After

From worn and boring to fresh and elegant!

I wish I had the space and a use for ten of these chairs, because I’d love to paint some in apple green, light blue or white. The upholstery options are endless, too. For this project, I decided on grey. Grey is the popular “new neutral,” and I agree that it is beautiful and timeless.

Painting furniture can be broken down into just a few simple steps:

1) Prep: sand and wipe down your surface.
2) Prime: it’s worth the time and money to use a coat of primer, as this will seal the existing wood or paint and help the new paint adhere.
3) Paint: I used a grey spray enamel from the hardware store.

  • Tip: chairs like these have lots of of angles and curves, and it’s easy to miss areas, so I try to work my way around systematically. I stand on each of the four sides and spray anything that is facing me, working my way around the chair. Then, I work my way around again, standing at each of the four corners and again spraying anything that is facing me. By doing this, you shouldn’t miss any spots.

4) Clear topcoat: this step is also worth the time and money, as the paint will wear and could rub off on walls or other furniture.

queen anne after

Another look at the new chair. I love the feminine and elegant look! have a secret about that beautiful fabric that I’ll share soon!

I love home decorating ideas that don’t have to cost a lot of money to get a one-of-a kind beautiful result.  I definitely have my eye out for the next great find!  These chairs are for my sewing and craft room, which is also our guest room. In a house full of boys, it’s the one place where I have fun adding some flowers and curves.

UPDATE: I followed up with a post about the upholstery, including my new favorite choice for durable and beautiful fabric.


This project is shared at:

Rummage Sale Finds: The Pleasure of the Hunt

There is hardly a finer feeling than being outside at a flea market or rummage sale on a beautiful day and finding a great deal on something lovely to bring home. Finding used items is not just about saving money – though that’s wonderful, too. It’s also about the personality and dimension that a mix of old and new things can bring to your space.

Today is one of those rare and perfect San Francisco Saturdays, when the sun is bright and hot, and there’s just a gentle spring breeze in the air. We took a family walk out to our neighborhood rummage sale. They call it a “collectibles” sale, but I think that’s a bit generous. The older boys brought their wallets, dreaming of a great Beyblade (if you have no idea what that is, just ask any five- to ten- year old boy!) or Lego find in the toy section, so we all felt the anticipation! We stopped at a fountain along the way, and our oldest shared his pennies, so they could make a wish.

When we arrived at the park for the sale, the boys were in and out quickly, after determining there were no Beyblades to be had. They did indulge in some muffins and lemonade from the bake sale, though. Our oldest later reported that he felt very grown-up, purchasing his own snack and that it was a very satisfying outing for $2.02 (the $.02 having gone into the fountain).

Hubby spotted these vintage board games in the toy section for $1 a piece, and they look ultra cool. They’re dated 1960 and 1958. Here they are on the game table in our den. Can’t wait to try them at a family game night!

vintage board games

Game of the States from 1960 and Gettysburg from 1958 for $1 each! Looking forward to playing these!

Now to my treasures! Nothing big, but I’ve been looking for accessories for our living-dining room, and it was a great place to pick up a few inexpensive items that feel like they have a story behind them.

old wooden box

$5 for this decorated wooden box with a little key.

painted silver box

The metallic spray paint gives a great glow very quickly!

spray paint

I used Krylon grey primer both for priming and a very light dusting over the silver, to give it a more aged look. The silver paint is very shiny!

side table styling

The new-old silver box on the nesting side tables in our living room. Not sure how long this vignette will stay safe from toddler curiosity.


Total of $11 for these five plates. They will hang on the wall in the dining room.

Today was a ton of fun, but for serious treasure hunting, you cannot beat the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, held the first Sunday of every month. It’s enormous, with row upon row of serious antiques vendors. I went on January 1 this year with a friend, and it was a wonderful start to the year, wandering in the fresh air, enjoying the view of San Francisco, gnoshing on Jamba Juice and kettle corn, and striking bargains! We plan to go back in May, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Click the picture for the Alameda Antiques Faire website.


Jewel-Toned Antiques

I was running errands in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco when I came across a unique and stunning boutique called Forgotten Shanghai.

Forgotten Shanghai logo

Amazing and unique store in SF. Click the logo to go to their website.

Their showroom is packed with furniture and decor items that range from Chinese antiques to modern designs with an Asian feel.  There are lots of treasures to browse, and I could have spent hours there, if I didn’t have two kids in tow who were on the verge of becoming the proverbial bulls in the china shop (haha!).

The products that caught my eye the most were the wooden chests and screens that were painted in blue and green jewel tones:

forgotten shanghai boxes

Media and File boxes in gorgeous colors. Click the picture for the product website.

Lacquered wooden screens in a range of fresh colors. Click the picture for the product website.

Tragically, at several hundred dollars a piece, their prices exceeded my budget.  I kept thinking about them, though.  I love adding Asian elements to my home – the classic lines are elegant and complement the Arts and Crafts pieces we have.  And with the fresh blue and green lacquer, these classic forms feel contemporary.  Luckily for me, I had a couple of pieces at home that I could make over to get the same look.

Painted wooden chest

I picked up this solid wood cedar chest off craigslist for $99 a few years ago from a woman who used it for staging homes.  It is stamped inside with “Wills Cabinet Shop Somerset, PA,” which looks like it is sadly no longer around.

chest before

Before: Cedar chest bought off craigslist.

Regular spray paint comes in limited colors.  I had a false start painting with a really unfortunate electric blue from the craft store.  If you don’t find the color you are looking for at the hardware store or regular craft store, I would recommend Montana Spray Paints, which are artists’ paints.  I found this color, Fjordonline, but I later discovered that Aaron Brothers carries Montana paints.  After sanding, priming, and painting, I added several layers of a glossy clear coat.  This really helps give a finished look as well as prevent any color from rubbing off on walls, etc..

painted teal chest

After: chest painted in Montana Fjord with a glossy finish.

Window screen

Another great find was this Chinese wooden window screen that I found at a consignment store for just $65!  Similar screens usually cost several hundred from a knowledgeable seller.  I was torn about painting it, as it always feels a little “wrong” to paint good quality wood.  In the end, I went ahead, thinking that I really needed something to brighten up our living room, which already has a lot of wood on the floors and in the larger furniture pieces.  The paint color is “Swept Away” by Benjamin Moore.  I had it leftover from painting our kids’ bath.  Again, I finished it with several coats of a clear finish to seal it.

Painted screen

Chinese wooden window screen painted in pale blue "Swept Away" by Benjamin Moore.

I’m so happy with how my Forgotten Shanghai copy-cats turned out! I’m especially excited that I make them from things I already had around the house. I have one more screen that is left-over from a carpentry job that I am thinking of painting in a glossy black for the foyer. I’ll post a picture when it’s done!