Monday, June 24, 2013

Birds on a tree branch

My latest project has been my daughter’s new room. This room has served multi functions as a guest room, a home office room, and as a storage and catchall room. To effectively make this my daughter’s room, I had to find other organized storage spaces in the house (but that is a discussion for another blog post). The room is a work in progress and I will share projects as I go along but today I wanted to show one in the room that I completed recently.

This project was to update and freshen the look of the heavy sliding closet doors. And of course to not have it look like the ‘before’ in the new room. Here's what it looked like before:


And.... Ta Da!! 


The color on the walls in the room is ‘cool pool’ by Valspar. This room gets a lot of natural light through a large window and so the brightness of the color is not overwhelming. I had a bit of internal debate in choosing the color for the closet doors…my choices ranging from white to a contrasting yellow to purple. I finally settled on a color two shades lighter called ‘lazy days’ taken from the same palette as the wall color. I chose a satin finish but a semi-gloss would be good too.

The sliding doors are heavy but probably with a hollow core and around 40 years old…the finish on it looked as old too. I began with a thorough sanding and cleaning with a tacky cloth….. I cannot stress enough the importance of sanding in any repainting project. Not only does sanding give a clean raw state to begin work on but also ensures that the paint or technique further used will adhere well, allow a cleaner painting job, and last longer without peeling or chipping. So spend a little extra time sanding and prepping your surfaces before beginning a painting project. An alternative would be to use an appropriate primer before the painting project. This is an acceptable shortcut but remember that you are adding on more layers on top of the existing ones.

Now onto the fun stuff…

I painted the doors with the chosen color using a foam roller brush. I did take the doors off the hinges and laid them flat on a work bench to make painting all the edges easier. The doors seemed to soak up the paint just as quickly as I could put it on. It took me four coats to get an even paint finish. I let the doors dry a good 48 hours before I hung them back in the room. I did the decorative painting of the birds on the tree branch free hand but there are many stencils available that can be used too. I referenced google images for ideas and patterns. To ensure I liked the way the birds on the branch looked, I drew the entire picture in a faint outline with a pencil and these lines were easy to erase after. I used acrylic paint for this decorative painting part. I love working with acrylic paint…it goes on smooth, mistakes are easy enough to fix, and a wide variety of colors are available.

            I think the changes are dramatic, are a big payoff to the room for a little effort, and most importantly my daughter loves it. What do you think? Please write to me your comments and share any similar projects you have done. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Shahjahan & Mumtaz

            After the success of Akbar, I felt an unstoppable urge to further the Mughal line and I came up with the idea for a coffee table ‘Shahjahan’ and its accompanying side table ‘Mumtaz’. With this very natural creative transition, I wanted to create a centerpiece that was expressive, a piece of furniture with presence and personality. To that end I am happy to say that these pieces are what catches the eye foremost in the room and they also make for good conversations.


Shahjahan is a solid masculine piece counterbalancing the light elegant beautiful Mumtaz. Originally they were a matching center table and end table pair in a country style with sliding cane baskets. My vision for Shahjahan was a repeating carved out pattern with an underlying mirror for the top of the coffee table. I used a garden trellis that I cut to size to fit the top of the table. But I had to compromise on the mirror as having a mirror cut to that size was very expensive. I considered using reflective mirror like spray paint but decided it would look fake up close. Instead I painted the layers in two shades of the same color to highlight the depth in them. I then finished the edges using molding trim to give it a framed look and stained the whole table with a dark walnut stain. Mumtaz was purely a painting project…lots of detailed painting with a steady hand. I did saw the edges of the top in a wavy pattern and the sides of the table as an arch for some added visual interest and also to reinforce the Mughal architecture. Finally I aged Mumtaz with some tinted sealer. Just as a note…both projects began with a thorough sanding and removal of the hardware that was holding the cane baskets.

             I am firm believer in taking what exists and reinventing it. Inspiration is all around us and for this duo I leaned towards the magnificent Mughal heritage and re-imagined it. This is my interpretation of the paintings, the stone work, the rich jewel tones, the detailed carvings, and the elegance that the Mughals were famous for.
To explain the names I give my pieces; not only do I like my creative expressions to have personality, but also a name. Rich cultural heritage reveals so much in hindsight. I took characters from history and made them representative of the art and culture of their times.
Today I heard a comment along the lines of… if you cannot own originals, and in this case original wood work carvings or old stone work pieces, then what’s the point. Until now I had not considered that…I was only doing what makes me happy. So, I thought about it and realized I like to find obscure or throwaway pieces and breathe new design into it. I find there is something organic with energy in these completed pieces. Agreed they are not the original or antique in any way, but I like that it makes history and a long gone era accessible. And instead of replicating design and concepts that are as common as seen in every d├ęcor magazine or stock showroom, I turned towards culture, history, and heritage for inspiration.
I have written simple highlights of these projects in this post. If you are interested in learning more about how to do them step by step or would like to know more just out of curiosity, please write to me. As always I appreciate your comments and support.
Be Inspired!