Monday, June 26, 2017


Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

One of the neatest things about this project is that it is a "double-upcycle".  I say that because I bought it at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore, and when I brought it home - I realized it was originally a brass chandelier that had been spray painted with what looked like a dark bronze paint.  It had a few scratches but I think it looked pretty good as is.  However, I was looking to do a white distressed finish, so the finish on the chandelier wasn't so important to me.

The other interesting thing about this fixture is that it was actually a large double layer fixture.  I needed a mini chandelier for a small bedroom with only 8 foot ceilings.  The original large fixture would never have worked in there. 

The neat thing about chandeliers of this type, is they are constructed of separate pieces layered to create a complete fixture.  It was fairly easy to disassemble - just unscrew the elements.  My husband helped with this process and also the re-wiring.  Fortunately, the bottom layer had separate spliced wires that just needed to be undone, and then the wiring put back together with just the smaller top layer intact.

The inspiration for the finish I was attempting came from Pinterest.  I really liked the distressed look of this lantern style fixture with the dark brown base with the white paint as the top coat.  I figured I could reproduce this look by using the Vaseline and/or candlewax paint distressing technique I had used on other pieces.  Vaseline helps provide a chipped paint look by doing a good job of exposing larger areas of the base layer paint.  This method works because the Vaseline prevents your top coat from adhering to the base coat, and the top layer can be scraped right off.

The Amelie Distressed Chandelier is perfect lighting for an entrance hall, bathroom or even back porch area. This light fixture is big on style and will enhance your French country home. $1,937.50

The candlesticks were white and I wasn't sure what I should do with those.  I decided to leave them white and I could always paint them or wrap them in twine later. I wrapped them in paper so they wouldn't get painted while I was distressing the piece.

I started with a quick coat of brown paint to make sure I was covering up the existing scratches exposing that exposed the shiny brash finish.  I have found that using our ladder and suspending the fixture underneath it - makes a great way to easily paint the entire fixture, as it enables you to spray at every angle to coat every surface.  That is just an old piece of wood across the frame of the ladder, and then I tied the fixture to the piece of wood.  The wiring for the chandelier is covered in a plastic bag to prevent paint from getting on it.

Chandelier suspended under ladder to accommodate spray painting
I waited until the brown paint was completely dry.  I let the paint cure for days before doing the next part.  (In part to allow the paint to completely harden, and in part because the weather was too cold to do any more spray painting, so I had to wait awhile anyway.)

Finally, the weather warmed up and I had an opportunity to proceed with this project.  I decided to use just Vaseline (no candlewax) on this piece and concentrate on the edges to get a chipped paint look, rather than a more weathered look like the inspiration photo.  I applied the Vaseline with a small artist brush.  When doing this - I think it is important to keep in mind the perspective the chandelier will be viewed from. In this case, it doesn't matter what you can see from above, because the top of the chandelier won't be visible to anyone when it is hanging in the room.  I sat underneath the chandelier when deciding where to apply the Vaseline, because that is the perspective one would have looking up at the chandelier on the ceiling. 

Vaseline applied on top of brown paint.
Vaseline applied on top of brown paint.

Vaseline applied on top of brown paint.
When applying the Vaseline you have to keep track of what you are doing.  In other words, keep track of where you are applying it because it can be difficult to see and you may end up missing big areas.  Because of this - Gooping on the Vaseline is OK, and will help you see it better.  This is OK because you will be spray painting over it anyway (and ultimately it comes off), AND the gooped up Vaseline will help show you where to scrape off the top layer of paint.

  1. When applying the Vaseline - "Goop it on pretty heavy".  It will allow you to see where you applied it.  This is helpful in the application as well as the distressing step.  For the distressing, in other words, you will be able to see where you can scrape off the paint.
  2. Also when applying the Vaseline - Be careful not to touch and disrupt where you have already applied it.  I made a point of handing only the loop on the bottom so I could turn the chandelier without any concern and then applied Vaseline to that loop last.
The next step was the white layer of spray paint over top of the brown paint and Vaseline.  Just spray right over it and let it dry.  You can see from the photos below, that if you have used a good amount of Vaseline - you can see where to scrape off the white paint to expose the brown layer underneath.  I use a plastic putty-knife to scrape off the layer of white paint.  A metal one has a tendency to scratch up the paint.  I wanted to avoid inadvertently scraping the brown paint off and exposing the brass underneath.

Once you have scraped off the top layer of paint where all the Vaseline was applied, you will need to clean up the piece.  The whole thing will feel kind of greasy from the remnants of the Vaseline.  I find a rag and all purpose cleaner works just fine.  I did not feel the need to coat it with a spray polyurethane to finish off the piece, but that could be an option.

  • Spray Paint (2 colors - a base layer to expose, and a top coat)
  • Vaseline & Small Artist Brush
  • Plastic Putty Knife
  • Rag and All Purpose Cleaner

Here's a few photos of the finished chandelier hung in one of the guest rooms in our beach cottage.
Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

If you are interested in a general overview of some DISTRESSING TECHNIQUES, see my post here which covers the use of SANDPAPER, CANDLEWAX and VASELINE.

For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


This is a project where "keeping it simple" was the key.  The chandelier was a freebee from a friend of ours.   Our friend does a lot of maintenance and remodeling work, and he thought I might re-work it and find a place for it.   At first it looked like just a dingy brown chandelier. It was larger than what I was looking for at the time (I was looking for a small one to go in one of the guest bedrooms in our beach cottage).  However, I realized we could fit a fixture this size over the bathtub in the master bathroom.  The installation would be easy since there was already a recessed can centered over the bathtub on a separate switch.

I wasn't quite sure what finish I wanted to do on this chandelier.  I had all sorts of crazy ideas.  After a little cleanup - the brown chandelier didn't look half bad.  Here are the options I considered.

  1. Paint it a high gloss white
  2. A distressed white painted finish (brown base with white top coat distressed to expose some of the brown base)
  3. Wrap the entire fixture in rope/twine
  4. Leave it brown
  5. Regardless of the base color of the chandelier - wrapping just the candlesticks in twine
  6. There were also tiny lampshades for each candlestick that I wasn't sure if we were going to use.  They were a dingy beige color, a little dirty, and could be spray-painted a matte white to clean them up.
Fortunately, a conversation with a friend about the project helped me determine what to do and helped me focus on a simple refurbishment.  Our friend, Christine, pointed out that a brown chandelier would tie in nicely with the existing brown cabinetry in the bathroom.  Also, we discussed how the fixture was going to hang over the turtle mosaic on the wall, and keeping the chandelier simple was probably a good idea so it would not compete with the mosaic.  Another good point is going with the existing brown finish would keep the options open; if we didn't like how it looked - we could always consider painting it white or trying some other finish.  I'm so glad I talked to Christine to help me figure this out!

Ultimately, I went with options #4 & #5 (Leave it brown and cover the candlesticks in twine).  This meant the only significant change I made to the chandelier was to wrap the candlesticks in twine.  I already had some twine on hand so this project was still free.  The tiny lampshades for each candlestick were still an option, but we decided to wait and see what it looked like without them first.

The installation was done by the same friend who gave us the chandelier.  He found a kit to retrofit an existing recessed can for a chandelier which made the process of installation easier.  I had originally thought we needed to remove the can and install a whole new bracket (either suspended between the beams or attached directly to a beam). This method would have also required a small ceiling medallion to entirely cover the hole from the recessed can).  The cool thing is that the kit we ended up using came with a ceiling medallion, so there was no need to buy a separate one.

Here are some other photos of the completed chandelier in the bathroom.

For now I think we are going to leave the tiny lamp shades off, but maybe I'll give them a try at some point.

For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


The driftwood wreath was a housewarming gift from friends.  It originally was hung by itself in the master bedroom, but felt like it was a little small for the space.  I liked the wreath and I realized it just needed a little help.  I decided to find something to hang with it, the goal being to make the wreath feel more substantial.    I considered options like a metal gate or just a decorative metal piece, but what was finding seemed too busy, and would distract from the pretty texture of the driftwood.  Ultimately, I realized I needed something simple, and a basic weathered window frame would enable the wreath to continue to be the star of the show, while serving the purpose of making it work on the large wall.

With the addition of the window behind it, the wreath no longer looks like it's just floating on the big wall above the dresser.

I looked at several options for windows.  I decided on the "four-pane" over the "six-pane" for simplicity's sake.

Distressing the window further was an option, but in the end I just cleaned it up and left it as is.  The white paint was not lead paint (I tested it). However, it had some exposed paint underneath on the back, which I determined was lead paint (one good reason not to try to distress the piece any further). So, I encapsulated the whole frame in a few heavy coats of polyurethane.

I'm now happy with the vignette on this side of the room.  There is a good triangle composition created with the dresser, the items on top of it, and the wreath on the wall.  I also like how the wreath now seems to be a stronger focal point than the TV.
For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


After watching a few episodes of "Fixer Upper" on HGTV, I got inspired to head to our local antique store to do some browsing.  Our beach cottage is in pretty good shape, but there are a few areas I'm still keeping an eye out for the perfect idea.  While shopping, I typically take photos of items that grab my attention with my phone.  This is so I can go home and think about where the items can be utilized.  This bathtub full of wagon-wheel-brackets caught my eye. . .

I think the wagon-wheel-brackets looked particularly interesting to me because I had just painted the spindles on our banister white (see photo below), and the spindle characteristics of these brackets would tie in nicely to the whole cottage feel we are going for.

In addition, I love it when I come across anything in the category of architectural salvage.  I think it is a great way to bring character into a newer home.

My first thought when I see any type of bracket like this, is using them for shelf supports for a rectangular shelf, but I couldn't picture a good place for a long shelf like this.  Then it dawned on me - how about using these to create a corner shelves?  The dining room had a vacant spot (we had thrown around the idea of finding an old surfboard to prop in the corner, but it hadn't happened yet, and I was starting to doubt we would find one that was reasonably priced, and looked good).  Corner shelves would work out perfectly - two brackets could be used in the corners with a pie shaped shelves mounted on top to create a corner shelf; so with four brackets we could create two shelves.

Empty Corner Wall in Dining Room

In addition to working well in the corner of the dining room - the shelves would help create balance in the whole great room area.   The opposite corner of the great room had a couple old style rope-boat-bumpers (see photo below).  I was having trouble picturing something that would balance out the corner on the other side of the room in the dining room - the idea of corner shelves was ideal for this purpose.

Opposite Corner of Great Room - Boat Bumpers

My husband wasn't completely sold on the idea of the corner shelves.  I have to admit, some of my crazy ideas don't work out, however, I readily concede in those cases.  This is a project I felt pretty confident about, and I pushed forward despite his reluctance.  For the record - he didn't like the idea of the yellow cabana stripe fabric on the dining room chairs (see photo below), nor did he like the idea of me painting the bar stools aqua blue (also see photo below) - once he saw the finished products he really likes them.  I recently considered putting a different fabric on a couple of the yellow striped dining chairs and now he doesn't want me to change them :o)


When I held the wagon wheel brackets up in the corner - they seemed a bit "busy".  The pieces needed screws removed and some cleaning up.  I felt that painting them the same clean color white of the trim would enable them blend in more, as ultimately the items placed on the shelves would be the focal point of the space anyway.

Here are the plans I came up with.   I enlisted the help of my husband and his friend to put these shelves together.

Based on my plans I needed to purchase the following:

  • MDF (enough to create the pie shaped shelves)
  • 2x2 pieces (for the braces for the back of the shelf, one for each shelf)
  • Keyhole Brackets for hanging (I purchased 2 for each shelf, but only ended up using one per shelf to hang them).
  • Prime & Paint

Wagon Wheel Brackets Primed and Painted
MDF ready to cut for shelves

Pieces of wood purchased for corner supports (to attach brackets).

Keyhole Anchors for mounting shelf on wall.
These will be placed on the corner support wood pieces above.

We used a piece of wood in the corner to provide support for the brackets, and then cut a wedge shaped piece of MDF to go on top for the shelf.   The front edge of the shelf was routed to create a curved edge.  This was to mimic the edge that already existed on the ends of the wagon wheel brackets.   All the pieces were primed and painted the white trim color prior to installation.  I decided I could do some touch up later if I needed to.

My husband decided it would be best to assemble these shelves in place.  His concern is that the walls in the corner where they were to be hung were not perfectly square.  I'm so glad we went with this approach because he was absolutely right!  The walls were slightly less than a 90 degree angle and this would have created issues had we pre-assembled the shelves prior to trying to hang them.

To install on the wall, we started with the 2x2 pieces.  My husband and friend had mounted the keyhole brackets on the back.  They had taken the time to route out spaces for them in order to allow the pieces to be mounted flush on the wall.  (In other words, the keyhole brackets were inset into the back of these pieces.)  Even though we had two keyhole hangers for each shelf, we ended up hanging these pieces with only one screw in the wall.  It was almost impossible to try to utilize two screws into the keyhole hangers based on where they were located.  We decided utilizing one screw into one of the hangers for hanging the shelves would be fine.

Next we attached the wedge shaped shelf top to the top of the 2x2 piece already mounted on the wall.  This was done with just one screw in the back corner (pilot hole drilled first) drilled down from the top of the shelf into the 2x2.  A finishing nail could have worked as well, but we went with a screw since it seemed to be more sturdy and it didn't matter the screw head was visible on the top of the shelf (with items sitting on the shelf you can't see the screws anyway).

The brackets were installed next, with screws drilled in at an angle (again we drilled pilot holes first).  Each bracket was held in place with two screws - one on each side).  Later, I covered the screws with primer and paint so they were not so visible on the finished product.'

I had been collecting items that would work on these shelves. The lighthouse was from our wedding.  We were married on the beach and this was a part of the d├ęcor on the table where we used small wooden sailboats as escort cards.  (See photo below and you can find that post here)

The small message-in-a-bottle is also from our wedding.  These were our save-the-date notices that were mailed out to our guests (See photo below and you can find that post here).

I had found the picture frames a while back at Homegoods and they are a nice display for a couple of our scuba diving trip photos.  The small bowl was found at Marshalls ($2.99!) and adds some more color. I think I found the woven-ceramic bowl on clearance at Target ages ago.  I like how the shelves contribute to the cottage style of the room and relate to the white spindles on the stairway banister (see photo of banister below).  I also like how they add a bit of cottage character to the space.
white spindles on banister on stairway

For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015


DIY Rope Chandelier

There are a number of posts out there about how to go about making these types of wrapped rope chandeliers.  I have read quite a few and I have accumulated some of the tips I found, along with my own tips right here:

Let me start by saying that my chandelier was a little different than many of the ones I have seen out there. It had a wider central base to wrap the rope around (I am referring to the faux crystal part of the chandelier).  Many examples I found online of a rope wrapped chandelier were made of all very narrow connected pieces.  Because of the wider base - I chose to use a wider diameter rope.  This created an issue for me - I didn't like the idea of the "spiral affect" I would get if I took a single piece of rope and wound it down the base. 

I realized in order to keep the rope horizontal - I had to piece each section as I moved down the lamp.  In other words - each layer is an individual piece of rope.  To do this.  Each row of rope had to be custom fit and the ends carefully pieced together to avoid the obvious look of seams.
  I did the ends of the arms first (the "cups" that hold the light bulbs and I have to admit - I did not do a neat-and-tidy job of piecing the rope).

DIY Rope Chandelier

As I moved forward, I worked harder cutting & piecing the rope (by cutting the ends at an angle) and I got pretty good at disguising the seems on the base of the lamp.  It definitely takes some time to do this right.  I go into more detail on this below in STEP 4.



Brass Chandelier - Habitat for Humanity Restore $15

Spray Primer and Satin Brown Spray Paint - $9
Fifty Feet of 3/8 Inch Sisal Rope - $8 per roll (one roll), I found mine at Lowe's
Light Bulbs - package of six candle style - $6

Small Wooden Ball - free (from my craft stash).  This was used as a sort of finial on the bottom of the chandelier.

Multi-meter - borrowed from a friend to test the wiring

Hot Glue Gun & Lots of Hot Glue Sticks - (from my craft stash).  Funny story about the hot glue sticks - about 20 years ago, I ordered a box of glue sticks from a craft store.  I had not paid attention to the size of the box, or the number of glue sticks it included;  I was just sick of running to the craft store to buy 10 glue sticks at a time for a dollar.  In the end - I was the proud owner of a GIANT box of glue sticks.  Over the years, I have handed out baggies full of glue sticks to friends and family, and I still have half a shoe box full of glue sticks.  For this project I used quite a bit of hot glue.



I used a multi-meter borrowed from a friend to test the wiring.  I mean - my husband used our friend's multi-meter to test the wiring (he's an electrical engineer so I think it is technically his job to do that kind of stuff for me :o)  If you are utilizing a thrift store chandelier like I did - this is an important step. I would hate to go through this whole process, only to determine the wiring doesn't work.


Tape off areas of the lamp you do not want to paint.  For me this included the wire up the chain, the exposed wiring at the top of the lamp, and the areas where the bulbs are placed.

I chose to spray paint the base a dark brown. Some will suggest  painting it an identical color of the rope you are using.  I went with a dark brown with my natural color rope, as I decided this is the color I wanted for certain parts of the exposed base.  In my opinion - the importance is to have a base that is a consistent color and if any of the based is going to be exposed - make it that color.

I highly recommend hanging the chandelier when you paint it.  It will save you time and aggravation when painting (no painting in sections and worrying about letting it dry and turning it over).  Also, another important tip - don't use the entire can of spray paint.  Make sure you have some leftover for touch ups after you finish wrapping the rope.


In my opinion, hot glue is the way to go.  You can use other types of adhesives but will definitely need to use clothespins (or something like them) to hold the rope while the glue dries.  I like to use hot glue because you can easily glue as you go with each wrap of rope and it holds rather quickly (never mind the burnt fingers - it just comes with the territory).   I had clothespins on hand but I didn't use them a whole lot.

As far as how to use the glue - I really think it is important to glue as you go to avoid noticeable gaps.  The idea of gluing one end and wrapping large areas to only glue again at the other end is a nice idea, but I'm skeptical this would yield good results.


All chandeliers are different - you need to plan out a strategy of how each section is wrapped and pay particular attention to the transitions from one part to another.  Remember - the rule is no gaps.  I also had to pay attention to the idea that some parts would be hard to get to, so I did those sections first.

Choose your rope and start wrapping.  I have seen it suggested to use 1/4 inch rope for some of these projects.  As I mentioned above, I elected to use 3/8 inch three-strand sisal rope.  However - I found the arms of my chandelier were too narrow and made it impossible to use the wide 3/8 inch rope here.  It was necessary to unravel this rope and use a single strand on the arms. 

I think this strategy (of using the smaller unraveled strands on the arms) adds interest and texture, and probably saved me a few bucks in rope as well.  In summary, everything but the narrow arms were wrapped in the wide 3/8 in rope.  Only the five narrow arms were wrapped in the smaller unraveled strands.

DIY Rope Chandelier

Now let's talk about cutting and piecing the rope to disguise the seams.  On the ends of the arms (the cups that hold the bulbs) you can see the start and stop of the ends of the rope.  I had not taken the time to figure out the technique of hiding the seams (where the ends of the rope met on each row).

DIY Rope Chandelier

As I progressed on the lamp - I got better at this.  You can hardly find where the ends of the rope start and stop.  I recommend practicing making rings of rope where you figure out how to cut the rope, seals the ends with glue, and ultimately piece them together.

DIY Rope Chandelier
Cut the ends at an angle and apply hot glue to the ends to keep them from fraying 

DIY Rope Chandelier
Once you put them together, they should be hard to distinguish between the continuous sections of rope.

DIY Rope Chandelier
I'm pointing to the pieced section of rope.  I think  I got pretty good at making these almost undetectable.

Think strategically when you are wrapping your rope.  For the main base of the chandelier, I worked from the top-down to the middle, and then from the bottom-up to the middle.  Had I tried to continue all the way down from the top, I would have gotten to a point where it was almost impossible the get the rope in place around where the arms meet the base.  Think ahead and avoid these types of issues.

When I got to the middle of the base, I had a small gap that was too small for another piece of rope, but no worries - I just glued the last piece somewhat on top of this section and I think this added a little more character to the chandelier - creating a small ridge in the base.

DIY Rope Chandelier

DIY Rope Chandelier

In the photo below - this was all the rope I had leftover from the chandelier.  Yikes! I didn't plan to cut it that close!


- Keep in mind, whether you are piecing strands of rope to create layers or wrapping a single strand - you still want to make sure you are avoiding large gaps between the rope.

- As most posts will indicate - wrapping the rope properly takes hours. Give yourself plenty of time.


If you are using sisal rope - your chandelier will be in need of a hair cut when you finish.  It takes some time to trim all the scraggly ends, but I think it is worth it.  Otherwise, the chandelier looks a little messy.

I was having trouble figuring out what to do with the bottom of the chandelier.  I tried to make a "monkey ball' out of the leftover rope and I found it quite difficult with this rope.  So...I ended up using a small wooden ball.  This is actually a wooden bead.   I had to fill in the hole on one side with wood filler, and make the hole bigger on the other side to fit over the existing finial on the bottom of the lamp.  Then I spray painted it a dark brown.  I think it worked out well.  Here are some photos of fitting this bead on the chandelier.

DIY Rope Chandelier

DIY Rope Chandelier

Here is the chandelier in one of the guest bedrooms in our cottage.  I think it really adds character to the room.  Now I have to find another chandelier for the other guest room...

DIY Rope Chandelier - finished product

DIY Rope Chandelier - finished product
For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.