Monday, March 28, 2011

Decoupage Flashback

Anyone tackling a DIY project has to have a certain sense of confidence. You have to approach the project with a "can do" attitude and remain unwavering despite personal shortcomings, failed attempts and unpredictable outcomes.

That's the attitude I adopted when I decided to transform a derelict door cabinet that I found on the streets of New York City. The cabinet was in good shape with only one of the wood pulls damaged. It was designed with drawers on one side and a hanging rod on the other leading me to believe that it was probably intended for a child's nursery. But, the scale of the piece—and the need for concealed storage in my home office—made me see the piece in a brand new light.

I decided to paint the interior the raspberry color of my window trim and cover the outside of the cabinet with architectural blueprints; something that would complement the room's blue and white theme and counter the amazing "St. Antoine B951" foral, damask-patterned wallpaper from Farrow & Ball. I made multiple color copies of a single blueprint (photographing it in sections on 11" X 17" paper), purchased a couple of bottles of Royal Coat Decoupage Finish (1401 Clear) from A.C. Moore, and armed with a single edge razor, metal ruler and plastic wallpaper smoother, headed upstairs to give decoupage a try.

The decoupage process is pretty basic. Apply a light coat of decoupage finish to the backside of the material, lay it in place, let it set, and then re-coat it with more of the same finishing solution. Since I wanted the pattern to have some flow, I approached this project like a puzzle; making certain not to repeat the same patterns too close to one another—or too often, joining wall and dimension rules from page to page, and, essentially, turning the blueprints every which way to get the look and flow that I wanted. That's why you will see room titles—living room, kitchen, dining room, etc.—right side up, upside down and left and right-side facing. I was careful to match rules near door seams, too, to give it a more professional look.

I was very proud of my first attempt. My one faux pas was applying a clear "non yellowing" polyurethane finish to the piece for added protection. The finish has yellowed and, while I have been tempted to try to remove the finish, I am going to live with it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Signs of Spring

Could spring really be around the corner? Apparently so. Due to a sudden burst of warm weather this week, including temperatures near 70 degrees on Friday, the transition from winter to spring has become visibly apparent. The ice dams that plagued my roof all winter are now a thing of the past. And, the near foot of snow that blanketed the ground just a week ago, has melted away to reveal a scattering of budding crocuses. I'm not retrieving the lawn furniture from the barn or firing up the grill just yet, but it is great to know that spring is finally here...on the calendar and at home in The Catskills.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chicks Galore

Today I visited the local Tractor Supply Co. store. It is something that I seem compelled to do on a somewhat regular basis. Since it is relatively close to ACE Hardware, The Dollar Store, and ShopRite--my other country haunts--it makes the visits that much more convenient and realistic.

With spring just a couple weeks away, the store has already replaced the snow shovels with rakes, hoes, and picks, swapped out the ice melts with seed and fertilizer, and shifted from heavy winter coats and snow boots to more seasonal attire. But, the surprise of my visit this weekend was discovering that "Chick Days are Here." F-I-N-A-L-L-Y!

That's right, from March 4th to May 5th you can pick up a chick or two in the store, or order enough online to fill a coop. Naturally I was drawn to the large galvanized metal stock tanks in the middle of the store where faint chirps signaled the location of Chick Central. And, sure enough, the tanks were filled with hundreds of little chickens, jostling each other for food and warmth. There were a variety of breeds to choose from; each one revealing detailed information on usage, egg production, egg size and color, whether they are best suited for free range or confined habitats, and their overall tolerance to heat and cold. I was amazed to learn that you could buy a chicken for under $2 (particularly given what I pay for a breast in the city).

Although I left the store as chick-free as I entered, I was compelled to go online to learn about the amazing breeds that are available through the Tractor Supply Co. The list is quite extensive. There's even a The Chicken Whisperer. No joke!