House Tour: Entryway

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

After our 6-months-in-Jozi anniversary we finally tackled the entryway. Working away a morning and an afternoon with some elbow grease, a little paint and basic tools we took our entryway from this:

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

To this:

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

To start, I stumbled upon this pin and used it as inspiration. We painted the wall a metallic gold color. I spray painted (sprainted?) the mirror black and the shelf white. I bought the little marble box at Home Goods along with the gold tray (the tray was white and was also sprainted). I made my plain Alvar Aalto E60 stool into a chevron stool for some texture, and my cheap Mr. Price rug into a patterned blue rug. I picked some beautiful pink flowers from our garden (thanks to which I’ll never have to go to a flower shop again…except maybe in winter, and only maybe). The flowers really steal the show.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

I love that one day’s work can make such a dramatic before and after. One note about the paint is that I like it more during the day when the light is flooding in and making the wall sparkle, than at night when that energy-saving bulb leaves something to be desired. There’s not much room but maybe I should think about adding a candle or two.  The different textures and patterns create visual interest, while the flowers provide a focal point. If you’re renting and your landlord doesn’t allow you to paint,  then patterns and colors on rugs etc and flowers can do the job of colored walls.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

P.S. That ancient looking thing is the security phone to the gate. Our house is 50 years old!

DIY: Chevron Stool (and how not to make the mistake I did)

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Normally, I find some DIY inspiration and when I make it comes out exactly as I planned it. This stool is a bit rough around edges (er…literally) as a result of not following the most important rule of spray painting, which is to spray paint many thin layers from 12 inches away. If you avoid my mistake yours won’t turn out so sloppy-looking.

So my friend Clare and I are having a little chevron obsession at the moment. She just ordered a chevron iPhone case and I pinned a chevron baby blanket (no babies for at least 4 years don’t get excited mom worry) on Pinterest. So while we were doing our entryway I decided that I needed some chevron in my life right NOW. So I turned a 12 dollar stool from my NYC apartment (edit: according to my friend Jeroen- ”not just any old stool…Alvar Aalto’s E60 stool, classic Finnish design from 1933″) into a chevron stool.

You will need:

-An old stool or small table top

-white spray paint

-black or whatever color your please (gold??) spray spaint

-painting tape or masking tape

-a tarp

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Here is the method in a couple short sentences: Spray paint your stool or table white. Remember light strokes from 12 inches away. Many layers are better than a few thick layers. Let dry over night. Using your masking tape, tape the chevron pattern. Covering the legs with plastic, spray paint with your second coat. My mistake was here and crucial- I sprayed the black about 3 inches away from the surface thinking the masking tape would save the white layer. Well it didn’t and the black dripped. Too bad, so sad but yours can turn out  professional looking if you’re not a tired doofus like me. I’m still going to use it even if though it’s brought a chevron-y zebra vibe to the house.

DIY (and partial house tour): how to sand and spray paint an old piece of furniture

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

For the past 6 months I haven’t been able to quite figure out which direction I wanted to take our room in. An ugly dresser (which was beautiful under the paint) that I bought off Craig’s List in Berlin sat sadly in its packing materials, since I was afraid if we left it unpacked I would never redo it as I originally planned. For the holidays we bought me ourselves an electric sander with many different  attachments and this is the single most important thing you’ll need if you ever want to redo a piece of furniture that has a previous paint job. It’s not expensive ZAR500 or about USD60. Sure, you can sand with your hands but I don’t have the time or the hand strength for that. The other most important thing you’ll need is outdoor space. This puts New Yorkers in a bind, but maybe you know someone in Brooklyn with access to a shared court yard or (gasp!) an actual garden or have relatives in Jersey with a yard.

You will need-

a piece of old furniture that needs some love

an electric sander (please, just get yourself one, they’re cheap)

tack cloth or a wet rag

Spray paint primer (Rustoleum or something, not the cheap stuff)

Spray paint in the colors you wish (I used the grey for the dresser, gold for the drawers and black for the handles and mirror)

Any new hardware you may need (I needed three new drawer handles)

1. Lug your ugly-out-on-the-outside piece of furniture outdoors and take your sander to it for all you’re worth. I’ve spent many miserable hours with a piece of sand paper and something I wanted to paint, and for sixty dollars for an electric one you can make all the pain go away, forever! Or at least until you move to a country with a different voltage. The key is to not press hard- let the sander do the work for you. And keep in mind that you are NOT trying to sand down to the original wood (unless you’re re-staining the piece, in which case this blog post is not for you) you are just trying to get everything smooth-smooth.

2. Take tack cloth or a wet rag and wipe away ALL the dust or your paint job will look like an amateur’s.

3. After spreading out drop-cloths spray the primer on. Buy the kind that is safe for things that have been previously painted so you don’t end up with a damn mess. The key to spray painting is to shake the can a lot, spray about 1 foot away in light, continuous strokes. Many light layers will look better than a thick one resulting from spraying 4 inches away from the surface.

4. Follow the instructions on the can for your next layers- for Rustoleum they suggest doing the second and third layers within 1 hour of the primer OR after 24 hours.  Remember- light and layered!

5. After everything has dried (24 hours) screw in your handles (I made P drill me some new holes since the handles I wanted didn’t fit into the previously made holes) and replace the drawers.

Voila! Enjoy your new but old furniture

Do you like how the bedroom is shaping up to be? I’m going for an industrial-ish but feminine vibe. I’m not quite sure how it will turn out in the end but P is into the dresser and I’m loving having some white walls for once. Also, in case you want one that thing the necklaces are hanging on is a metal branch I bought from Urban Outfitters and they’re always selling some version of it.