Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Simple But Significant

My son lives in an apartment. Most of his furnishings are hand-me-downs or thrift store buys.
Somehow the pieces have come together to make a fairly comfortable place. With its retro "Mad Men" vibe it suits my son to a T.

The large wall in his lounge area needed a fairly large-scale art piece or collection.  Large-scale art pieces are expensive and my son, a minimalist, isn't into collections (aside from his vinyl records that is).  I offered to make something for him.
He tentatively agreed asking that I just keep it simple.
I could oblige.

I visited the local big-box store and purchased two large 1" x 6" x 8' boards with "personality" - knot holes, interesting grain patterns, etc. I then had each cut in half so they could fit in my tiny car, and because I felt 4' lengths would be perfect for the project I envisioned - a simple arrangement of 4 wood-grain horizontal stripes in varying stains. 

I sanded each board until smooth. Then located a single can of left-over brown paint I knew was tucked away in the depths of a garage cupboard.  While searching I found a half-used can of black chalkboard paint I thought I could use as well.

I mixed up the brown paint, added some water to thin it considerably, and slathered on a liberal amount.  I then wiped off any excess and set it in the sun to dry.

I repeated the process with the other two boards, modifying the color for each a bit by adding black to the paint for the second board and a bit of beige to the third. This allowed me to achieve the three gradient colors.

On the final fourth board, I simply painted it a couple of times with the chalkboard paint.
When the boards were completely dry I sanded them a bit to smooth and distress them.

The final step was to seal each of the three painted boards with some finish wax. I chose to use a dark, antiquing wax.  I love the natural luster finish a quality wax provides.

I then got a bit carried away!  I embellished the boards with some random junk and added a wood New York City skyline art piece I found at a discount department store.  I thought it looked great.
Anxious to show it to my son, I snapped a picture of the finished product and sent it my son's phone via messaging. "What do you think?" I asked.
He responded, "Thanks for thinking of me, but the stuff on the boards doesn't really 
resonate with me."  
Hmmmmm... I had done it again.  I knew he was right on. I had gotten so into the project that I was thinking more of my own aesthetic than his!

To rectify the problem and make it more representative of my son's aesthetic, I simply stripped all the embellishments off the boards and removed the purchased cityscape. 

This brought me right back to the original concept of 4 simple boards in varying shades of brown arranged in horizontal stripes.

A couple of "D-rings" were attached to each board for easy hanging.
Just before delivering the boards to my son's apartment, I wrote a quote from Mad Men on the chalkboard just to demonstrate that the board could indeed be used as a chalkboard.  
It sums it up this project perfectly:

Make it simple, but significant!

All photographs taken by Paulette Rodriguez.


  1. Paulette, I just stayed up until after 1:00 a.m. looking at every post you ever did. I love your style! I am a misplaced Texan--just moved to PA. How I wish you could come help me decorate. I've got a stash-- and you've given me ideas on how to use it. Thanks for sharing. I love your stuff!

  2. JeffandDeana,
    Your kind words couldn't have come at a better time! I was just about to abandon my blog for good when I saw your comment. I'm so glad there are other junkers/crafters out in the world who like to chat about projects as much as I do!
    Inspired to dig through my own "Stash" to see what I can make today. Y'all take care!


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