Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kitchen Island Goes Grey

Love the finished piece!
In case you haven't noticed, grey is the new beige and its everywhere.  I have a wonderful young client with 3 young kids, and a newly purchased home. We started off in her home a year ago and did bold pink and white stripes in her girls bedroom above the chair rail and a metallic grey brushed plaster below. The master bedroom has a focal wall of horizontal grey and silver combed strie. And this spring we were called back to check out her kitchen island.   The island is about 5 years old, perfect condition, and stained cherry. It just wasn't what she wanted, and once she got her GORGEOUS table from Restoration Hardware, she knew it had to change.

The before shot. Of course I didn't save my original shot!

Originally my client was thinking to paint it like the rest of kitchen, cream with a brown glaze. I decided I had to show her some more options. I always feel like, if you are going to change it, then make a big change! I gave her a few samples to look at, a black base with layered greys and distressed edges, a simple grey glaze over charcoal base, and a very cool grey driftwood type of faux wood grain. And guess what she chose?? The very cool grey wood grain!!! I was ecstatic, something fun, different, and beautiful.

Becuase of our hectic schedule we finally got in to do the work two weeks ago. She was so patient in waiting for us to get there.  For this project, we began by degreasing the cabinet with TSP, and used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint as our base.  It's a great product and I knew it would bond well with the cabinetry. After two coats, we were ready to start. We began by taping off corners on a mitered angle, just like you would see in real wood finishes. I made a custom glaze of black and white tint, and brushed it on. I used a regular chip brush to pull through the glaze to create the graining.  By holding the brush and pressing down on its bristles in uneven pressure, you are able to get a variety of different types of effects.
First coat of ASCP

Mitered edges, and the grey brushed grain.

See the board leaning on wall, that is my sample door.

Once a section is dried overnight, we tape off the opposite angles and glaze the same way. After this is all dry, we adding a toning layer of dark brown glaze, this warmed up the grey, and added more depth.
On the right side, how the brown over glaze warms up the color.

Two coats of poly were brushed on, and hardware reassembled.  We happened to do this right before Columbus Day, so we were able to let it dry and cure a few days before putting the cabinet back.
The finished shot!

Close up, love the varying lines in graining.

I was so thrilled with how this came out, but more importantly my client loves it!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time is Flying By

My last post was on May 20th, and its already the end of July. 

Wow. In my head I had a few posts that I wanted to do along the way, but have been completely 
swamped with work. Not too mention it is also summer, so any free time I have is spent in the pool with my boys, and gardening, and bbqing! 

So i figured I would keep this post short, and sweet, and more related to home life. 

Taken ay my clients house, not altered one bit. Can you see the itty bitty spider on upper right side of petals? 

One of my favorite things to do is garden, and take pictures of flowers. As some of you know me well, I have very shaky hands, and it doesn't allow for great photos lately.  But my iPhone has completely changed that.  It must have some built in anti-shake or something, because I can do no wrong! It also captures really great detail in moving shots, like my boys splashing in the pool.  Hope you enjoy the pictures and are enjoying the summer as well!
Kyle and Logan having a splashing great time!
I love Logan's expression in the back.
Following in Mom's footsteps and watering my plants.

My favorite flowers are Dahlias, any kind.
More dahlias....so pretty!
Cosmos flower
Morning Glory opens up early am...
Morning glory in middle of the day, closed up tight.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Simple Can of Paint

In home renovation, painting is one of the easiest ways to get the most wow for the dollar. Or at least I think so.  But then again I also paint for a living...so anything with a brush I am biased for. For $50 and some manual labor you can easily change your wall color, creating a whole different feel in a room.  It also happens to be a great way to change your kitchen cabinetry for the fraction of the cost of a full kitchen renovation.

A lot of my clients want to update their kitchen look without breaking the bank, and lets face it, the cost of new cabinets is a lot, add on a contractor to install them, someone to demo the old cabinets, and chances are you would need new countertops and maybe even new backsplash.

And before....

In comes paint!  We were recommended to our client by Amanda from Suite Pieces, and Susan and I were introduced.  Before I get into Susan's kitchen project, let me tell you about Susan.  She is a an artist and a huge DIY'er.  She has a wonderful blog Homeroad, and sells a lot of her goodies on Etsy.  When we first met, I could barely concentrate on what we were talking about...my eyes kept drifting to look around at all of her projects.  Her home is what I envision my home to be one day when there aren't little boys running around to break things.  Every where I looked was something so simple, yet stunning and effective, and done without costing a fortune.

The After!

Who wouldn't want to open their beverage this way? How cool!

Add caption

Susan gave me a door to try a sample on, she had done her cabinet in grey, and wanted the remaining in a white.  We mixed up a blend of two whites, and came up with a creamy color.  After seeing the sample, Susan loved the color, but wanted to bring the grey into the rest of the kitchen. So the above cabinetry was painted a cream, the lower grey, and a beautiful soft satin varnish applied. The edges were distressed slightly to give an old worn look.  The cabinets were not in the best condition, over 20 years old, but had good bones.  Some TLC gave them a new lease on life.  It was an absolute pleasure working with Susan on her kitchen and I am so excited I was able to help her "blend" her kitchen into the rest of her home.
Up close detail of the simple sanded edges.
The best part about painting the cabinets was seeing Susan's reaction when she came home to a completely finished kitchen.  We painted the doors in the studio, so we wouldn't wreak havoc on her busy home, and then installed them at the very end. She was thrilled! So for your next project, try giving the bathroom vanity, or kitchen cabinets a paint face lift.  Instant gratification!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Even the Professionals Make Mistakes

The title says it all. As I said in my last post about the tin ceiling jobs, I would be sharing my experience working on an order for a Copper Patina Finish for a restaurant in Sweden.  Most of my other jobs that I get are usually not a rush, they have to have the painters come in, prep, sometimes wood work has to be built, etc. There is always a delay. It is never, "You have to start tomorrow."

The orders for Hollister and Sweden came in at the same time. I had about a week and a half to get ready before we would begin, and as I said in the last post, what worried me the most was the shelving. Not once did I ever consider the paint to be an issue. I went online to the paint manufacturers site and was surprised I didn't see the color of the Metallic I needed.  Hmmmm, how odd.  It is a California company, but thankfully someone was there a bit early that day.

CA:  "Harvest Gold has been discontinued."
Me: "WHAAATTT???? When?"
CA: "Two years ago."

Oh my God!! I think I literally had a heart attack. Holy, holy, holy! What was I going to do? And at this time, I did ask the person I was speaking with if they had any left over that they could sell me.  I was told no.

This was the original tile sample I did, but Sweden's order would have no black patina.
I told myself, this has to work out. I had time to find some, I will just call every paint store in NY, NJ, and CT and see what is left.  I found dribs and drabs, 6 oz. here, 18 oz. there. The biggest score I got was at store in Long Island City who had eight 16 oz. jars. I will take them all!! I posted on a few forums such as Faux Forum, MuralsPlus, and Linkedin. But the biggest break I actually got was being given the ok to do Hollister first and then Sweden. This gave me time to look for more paint.  A few artists in CA had bottle unopened and I paid them for the product and to ship it. A fantastic man from Florida told me he had the rep's name for the paint company and to call him.  I spoke to representative, and he called the company direct and told me they had cases of the paint in 6 oz. jars.  The paint was old and I would just have to pay for the shipping since they couldn't tell whether or not the paint would be any good.  It was a chance I was going to have to take.  I actually had to call the woman who told me they had none, who then said, well how much do you need? How much do you have? Oh cases ... (really you had just told me none last week! )  I ordered about 9 gallons worth in 6 oz. jars. I figured I should stock up. LOL!  In the meantime, I had to prep for whether or not this paint would be good.  I had to make a color close enough to the original. I could do that by mixing copper, bronze and a ton of mica gold into it. It could work.

So now I had just finished dropping off Hollister's order, my assistant is back at the studio getting the second set of shelving all done and the tile owner shows me my pallet of tiles.

I looked at it and said, "That's not for me."
Him:  "Yes it is, those are the 1 by 1's, 1 by 2's and 2 by 2's".
Me: "But they aren't flat, these are raised. I have shelving for flat tiles. We never talked about raised tiles!"

PANIC!! These tiles sitting in front of me are for a coffered ceiling, meaning they have an indentation of 4 inches. My shelving is for 1 inch. I can't roll these tiles either. What the hell was I going to do? I think after that I didn't hear a word, as I was so upset that I signed up for something and I never even asked to see what it looked like. I had assumed that all the tiles were flat. I was never told otherwise.

Clearly not flat.

I  ended up buying a sprayer, since the tiles couldn't be rolled. The sprayer worked wonders, and the shelving was re-adjusted. We had to remove 3 pieces in-between to make up for the height difference, and this meant that fewer could be drying. It really meant my sons were going to lose their playroom for awhile.

New spacing to accommodate height.
Monday we started spraying. We took turns as holding the gun got tiring, awkward and caused a lot of pain in our forearm. Basically using muscles we normally don't use.  By the end of the day we were doing ok, and started to clean up. And that's when it happened. We had been wearing gloves all day handling the tiles, and had taken them off to put some away. My assistant wasn't carrying any, but happened to turn and her hand hit a tile that was leaning on the chair. She grabbed her hand, and turned as white as a ghost. "I cut my hand. I saw the bone. I have no insurance, you need to do a butterfly stitch."   I told her, "There is no way in hell I am giving you a butterfly stitch, I am taking you to get stitches."  She panicked, she was about to throw up and pass out.  I guided her upstairs, put a cold rag on her head and went to look for bandages.  I remembered the emergency service place around the block, called them, asked if they can do stitches and if it was crowded! It's got to be better then the ER.

Thankfully she was able to move her fingers, she only needed 6 stitches, but my concern was really no nerve or muscle damage. Phew! Sooo scary.  Those tiles can sever your hand, or a finger. Now what was I going to do for help? I called my friend a painter, who had also helped with the Hollister tiles, and he was free that week. He came to spray, and was he a master! He flew threw them, and at times so fast, we were running around like a chicken, trying to copper patina them, dry them, store them, put wax paper between them.  I also didn't account for cleaning the tiles, why would I know that some would be caked in oil, like a bottle of EVOO had tipped over on them.  One set was covered in oil that we lost almost a whole day cleaning them with Mineral Spirits.  Even with cleaning the tiles, and my assistants hand limiting her, we were still ahead of schedule due to the efficiency of the sprayer.

This is great! Then I emailed the owner a picture of the tile to make sure that the patina was a good amount before we varnished.  He was also away on vacation, and I didn't hear back until late Thursday night.  It went something like this "Looks great, but you aren't painting the backs are you, because you don't have to."  I replied, "Noooo, why would I paint the backs?"

The picture I sent him.   
The next day we went about spraying the next round of 1 by 2's, and about 1 pm, I thought about his email again, and said, why would he say that? That's weird.  I spoke to the crew and said, "Weird right?" "Let me call to find out, don't spray any more!"  I called the warehouse and tried to explain. The emails with the photos I was sending them weren't going through, the owner was out of the country and unable to get calls, the man I was speaking to was describing the tile all wrong. I had thought the side I was spraying was the side he said to do when  I picked them up. Apparently I was so overwhelmed that day, I didn't get it right! In fact, all week we sprayed the backs of 700 something plus tiles! I wanted to cry. I was so mad, I just couldn't.  The only saving grace was that we hadn't gotten to putting the copper on the 300 1 by1's.  I looked at the crew and said "What am I going to do?" And very simply they said "Start over. We will work all weekend. We will fix it and make it right."

The correct side! 

I love that each one is individual in its patina pattern.
And we did. We still finished on time, picked up the next set and finished those on time without a hitch.

We even had to build a custom shelf to hold the moldings when being sprayed.

Waiting for the patina and copper.


And this was the only FLAT tile, 2 by 2. 
Never again will I ever take an order without knowing what it looks like, what side is up, down.  This is something totally new to me, and I am learning. That week was the most expensive, painful learning experience of my career. We overcame a discontinued paint, injury, painting the wrong sides, but they came out amazing. I can't wait to see them installed in the restaurant in Sweden. They should fly me in!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Always something to learn

Back in September I received a phone call from a tin ceiling manufacturer that has been in business for over 100 years, since 1896.  Most of the time when I get new phone calls about leads, it usually takes awhile for it to work out, and sometimes doesn't pan out. Thankfully this one did.  The owner of the company asked if I would be interested in painting tin ceiling tiles that they make for their client Abercrombie & Fitch.  At the time I was busy on another job, so I told him we would have to meet when I was finished.  Two weeks later, I was able to stop in. By that time I figured he had already found someone else, but he wanted to meet.

The Abercrombie & Fitch tiles are actually for their store Hollister. I have never been in a Hollister before and the tile that they painted are very dark red with a black glaze over it. It's so dark that when you hold it above your head it looks black. I ended up doing a sample for them and they were happy with it. All that had to occur now was the fire testings in Japan to be done and passed.  They told me if they do get the order, there would be about 900 tiles 2 ft by 2 ft to paint. How in the world was I going to handle that, store it, and paint it? What was I getting myself into?

In December I brought them tiles that I painted in colors and finishes that I thought would be marketable to the public.  I did a about 12 different finishes, and I could envision each one in their one special place. A very unusual one I did was Harvest Gold Reactive Paint, sold by Modern Masters with a Black and Blue Patina.  This one was actually a huge hit and about a month ago we got our first order from a high end restaurant in Sweden. At the very same time, Japan approved the Hollister sample and an order was also placed. Panick set in. For about 4 months I envisioned how we could set up drying racks and here it is. Now. Build them now.

Our first plan was 2 by 4's with screws projecting from the sides at marked intervals so the tile can slide across and into and rest on the shelves. After building the first one we discovered if you were to slide it in, chances are it would hit the one below it scratching it.  So then I decided to use wire and make an x from screw to screw and that would act as a barrier. Actually first I tried yarn, and these tiles are razor sharp it would just shred it in seconds.

I spent all weekend before the big day setting up these wire shelves. It was not easy, my fingers were aching. I missed the Grammy's, the boys had to be watched by my parents so I could string these wires.
The next day was test time. We had 220 tiles to paint for Hollister first (Sweden would have to wait) and thankfully so.

Monday was the first day, and the beginning of our many issues, mistakes and adjustments would need to be made. The wire shelves just weren't going to cut it. They sagged, the tiles still scratched and scraped. I panicked. My husband looked into getting foam core board at Home Depot. I called the tin ceiling company, and yahoo! They have plenty of cardboard that I can cut in half, and use as my shelves. The tile will just slide in. And it was more then half the cost of Home depot. Bye bye wire. What a waste of time that was.

My dismantled wire. Reminds me of an art project in college.

This is what my new shelves looked like. It worked like a charm, the tiles slid in. You just had to be careful not to bump the cardboard above as you angle it in.

The Hollister tiles would have taken less time had we not had to stop and re-configure the shelving.

Here is a picture of the Hollister tile. Next time you are near a store, stop in and look up. They look black don't they? Well, some artist was paid to paint them first, and thankfully so! Keeps us busy!

Check back soon, I will post about the Sweden Tiles!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Houzz as Invaluable Inspiration

I met a fabulous new client over the summer who educated me about the website Houzz.  Having never heard of it, I immediately went online and fell in love with its simple design and gorgeous results. It's a brilliant site, full of extreme homes to quaint cottages, million dollar kitchens to tiny offices, any type of gardens, and enough exterior home pictures to make me completely forget about time.  Once I log on, it's suddenly 2 hours later.  Much like Pinterest, you are able to create your own idea books, where you can save photos for inspiration for your home.

I have quite a few started for inspiration for the exterior of our home.  I found amazing stone facades, gorgeous larger then life corbels, curved roofs, English garden for my side yard. One day I started looking up kids play houses, and sadly, some were nicer then my home! Lol!

Bella Terra Designs, Inc., my company has a portfolio up and I am so happy that many people have used my work as inspiration for their floors, nurseries and living rooms. I am also so excited that the company was awarded Houzz Best of 2013 in the category of "Customer Satisfaction." Without my happy clients, I know I would not have an amazing job to go to. I feel very lucky that my busy clients took the time to write some reviews for me. I appreciate them all and all the wonderful people I have met since starting this business!!

Here is the press release:

Bella Terra Designs, Inc., of Bellmore, NY Receives Houzz’s 2013 ‘Best Of Houzz’ Award
Annual Survey and Analysis of 11 Million Monthly Users Reveals Top-Rated U.S. Professionals

-- January 21, 2013 – Bella Terra Designs, Inc. has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” 2013 by Houzz, the leading online platform for residential remodeling and design. The interior decorative artisan company was chosen by the more than 11 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community.

The Houzz “Best Of Houzz” award for 2013 is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design. Customer Satisfaction award winners are based on homeowner members who rated their experience working with remodeling professionals in 12 categories ranging from architects, and interior designers to contractors and other residential remodeling professionals. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the community of 11 million monthly users, also known as “Houzzers,” who saved more than 124 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, iPad/iPhone app and Android app.

“Houzz provides homeowners with an in-depth, 360-degree view of building, remodeling and design professionals through images of their work, reviews and an opportunity to interact with them directly in the Houzz community,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community. “We’re delighted to recognize Bella Terra Designs, Inc. among our “Best Of” professionals for exceptional customer service as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”
With Houzz, homeowners can identify not only the top-rated professionals like Bella Terra Designs, but also those whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and evaluating their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.

So go check out Houzz, and be inspired to make changes!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Custom Family Sign

For Christmas, my brother, my sister-in-law, my husband and I used to exchange presents.  Now that we both have families, we skip our gifts and just do the god-parents gifts from the boys.  It's always tough to buy a gift for a couple without it being the standard restaurant gift certificate.  This year I decided I should make them something for their home, and make it personal.  One day it dawned on me.

My brother has a tattoo on his inner bicep that says "Familia Fortitudo Mea".  It means "Family is my strength" in latin. Bingo!  I would just have to change it to say "Family is our Strength" since it would be a family gift.

Sign installed

Oh, and of course I needed to have a helping hand from my husband.  My dear hubby cut me 2 pieces of wood, and we bought a router.  He routed out the edge to create a nice detail. While I was at it, I figured my client would also enjoy a sign for her new home, and her growing family. It would be a "Thank You" gift for their home.  I really don't care for much of the signage work out there, mostly because it's mass produced and is missing that hand made, old, worn look.  I knew that these signs were going to be very distressed, much like the Beaver Dam sign I did.

What better way to start out getting a distressed old sign, then letting my 3 year old go to town on the wood and paint it for me!! Yep, Kyle helped out. He wasn't feeling the banging with the tools part, but he loved to paint.  I left it in the capable hands of my assistant and her assistant, Kyle, to get it down. If I had actually watched, my OCD probably would have smoothed out the globs of paint he put on.  And I do mean globs, they paint was so thick in some areas I was able to smooth it with a putty knife 12 hours later and it was still wet. But it created the perfect under base.

Painting in the lettering.
The boards were first primed, then base coated a deep chocolate, then a Navajo White.  I used every kind of tool to beat them up.  Then I used the computer to create the designs and projected them onto the sign. I traced them in pencil.  The names were painted in a light grey, and I sanded them down.  The quote was painted in black. I went back with a heavy grit sandpaper and really took a lot of the paint off.

I worked on both side by side, easier to do them together.

Detail of letterings being sanded. 

Next step was this fabulous crackling varnish. It gives the look of old oil canvas paintings. I sprayed the
signs first with Damar Varnish and while tacky, brushed on the Cracking Varnish.  I sped up the drying process with the hairdryer. Like a kid in the candy store, I was ecstatic to see the cracks forming. The kit comes with a antiquing black. It is rubbed into the cracks with a dry cloth.  I sealed it all with a Flat Varnish, my "old" signs can't be shiny.

Close up of crackle. Love the different sizes!

I love how the antiquing part just emphasizes the distressing.
Both my client and my brother and sister-in-law were thrilled with their gifts. I was so happy that it went well and they loved them. Now I just have to work on more to try and sell!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How to Paint a Checkerboard Floor, Parts 4 & 5

Back for more? You have made it to the end!! I am hoping the tutorial is easy to understand.  I do hope if anyone has any questions that you email or call me.  I will try my best to answer them!

My floor layout.

The supplies. Go to Faux Effects Stain

This is how your tape should look in the points that they meet.1

Divide your template through the corners and you will get your measurements.