30 September 2010

For the love of hardwood

Do you love hardwood underfoot?  We do and I came home the other day to some exciting new developments here at our little Casa L and J. 

I'm not the only one in the family who loves to be creative.  My other half J owns a hardwood flooring company (check it out here if you live in Winnipeg and are looking for some green alternatives to traditional hardwood practices) and he loves to try new things with wood floors.  In the summer I shared some pics of our cottage in Killarney, where he laid maple with random walnut boards throughout.

It's not for everyone, but we love how it turned out so we've decided to do something similar in our own house.  On the main floor we have a white oak floor and our upstairs loft master bedroom (which is currently carpeted) will be maple with random white oak boards.  This is a future project, but to transition, J is working on our staircase.  Here is the before, with the nasty old carpet, pre-hardwood...

With all the old carpet ripped off...

So J's idea is two-fold, because he loves creating one of a kind floors.  Rather than have the hardwood laid out horizontally to align with the steps, he is laying it out vertically.  He's mixing maple and white oak boards together, so that as you move upstairs you see more maple and the tranasition isn't so different.  The nosings (along the edging) are maple.

I can't even believe what he's done in two days!  As you can see from the pic, the colours are a little stripy but that's just because they haven't been sanded and finished yet - after that they'll have the same yellow tone at the finished floor and blend much better.

Again, it's not a floor for everyone - it goes against a lot of traditional hardwood 'rules', but we love to make things uniquely our own!  Plus it's always fun to see new ideas for inspiration. I'll keep you posted and put up some pics once it's all done.

Are you a hardwood lover?  What's your favourite wood floor?  Do you lean towards traditional or does out-of-the-box appeal to you?

29 September 2010

Etsy Love: Brookish

First of all, many hugs for all your wonderful and encouraging comments yesterday.  You give me a lot of strength and I really consider you to be my community (even though you are all over the world!).

Today's Etsy Love comes via Amy over at Journey Mum.  She brought these delightful goodies from Brookish to my attention.  This Etsy shop sells goods adorned with quotes from Jane Austen and her famous works of literature, how sweet is that?

{All images via Brookish}

I love anything to do with words and books.  On the subject of literature, do tell - who's your favourite author?

28 September 2010

Building a Biz: Lessons Learned 3 Months Later...

Can you believe it's only been 3 months since Lather Creations was born as a business?  I sure can't, it really feels like longer to me.  So I'm taking some time to reflect back on what I hoped to achieve, what I have achieved and my future goals.

 To date, I've transformed 24 pieces of furniture.  I've sold 16 pieces in total, including 13 original pieces of my own and 3 client commissions.  I currently have 8 for sale.  Break that down to 4 sales a month, which is ahead of my initial goal of completing and selling 2-3 pieces per month.   Yes, I'm a bit of a 'goals geek', it helps me stay motivated!

Here's a little recap of the lessons I've learned and continue to learn as I go:
  1. Know your worth - Everyone told me to make sure I priced accordingly, but it's hard in the beginning to believe you have something valuable to offer.  I've had to turn a few people away after a few lowball offers on my pieces and when you're first starting out - ouch that isn't easy! But I am slowly beginning to believe in myself.  My pieces are timeless and very well made.  I search high and low for quality pieces and this takes time.  This is what I have to offer when you buy one of my pieces.
  2. It won't always be fun - Even though I love doing it, painting furniture isn't always fun.  Some days I don't want to go the extra mile and add coats of finish...but I always do.  I fundamentally enjoy it at the core and that's what I have to remember.  The little details?  That's why it's still called work!
  3. Building takes time - I used to really feel the highs and lows.  I'd have no nibbles for weeks and think this was all a big mistake.  Then I would have a series of sales and I'd be on top of the world.  Luckily, I live with a VERY patient man who constantly reminds me to look back at the last few months, not the last few days.  It's so much more rewarding to see your successes as a whole rather than focusing on one short period of time.
  4. Keep track of your customers - I'm lucky enough to work at an ad agency and this gives me a little bit of insight on research and marketing.  It's not huge, but I always send out a short email questionnaire to my buyers after they've purchased a piece.  I ask them to provide some info on who they are, their style and why they choose upcycled.  It helps me validate who I'm marketing to and better focus on the product traits that appeal to them.
  5. Keep track period - No, I'm not the best at this but I'm working hard to make sure I document everything - from my supply costs to my days on the market to the age of my buyers.  Even if I'm gathering slowly, I know I will be able to use this information in infinite ways in the future.  and I'll be prepared to do so!  Plus the tax man can come get me if I don't...
  6. Don't say yes to everything - I was approached by someone who had a lot of old furniture ans wanted to perhaps be a regular supplier to me.  I did buy some pieces and they're perfect for me.  But he also had homemade pieces that didn't quite fit my brand of vintage and antique furniture.  It can be hard to say no when the price is right but I have to remember I'm building a niche.  Store commissions are another area that I'm asked about , but if customers are happy and buying my goods now - why would I want to take on the risk in a shop of something not selling or getting worn or damaged?  It's hard not to get excited about opportunities but I've had to learn when to say no.
Every business is different, these are just some of the things I've learned along the way.  I have so much more to learn and I can't wait to look back in another three months.

For you biz ladies out there...what's been your biggest lesson learned?  I'd love to hear your wisdom!

    27 September 2010

    Before and After: Sky Blue Vintage Chair

    How's your evening going?  I had the urge to bake so I'm trying a new lemon square recipe, they're baking as we speak!  They're celebration squares, since I woke up to over 100 followers this morning.  Wow! Thanks so much! Since I can't give you a lemon square in person I'm sending you a virtual dainty and a hot cup of tea... 

    In the meantime, I finished up this chair I was working on this weekend.  It's a super simple transformation for Lather Creations, starting with a solid wood chair with great lines.  I must really be losing it because once again I forgot the before shot.  I need to go back to my practice of shooting it the minute it comes home or I risk this happening!

    Well trust me, she was in need of a makeover so I sanded her down, primed her and covered her in this lovely shade of sky blue by CIL called 'Bear Run'.  Now she's ready to adorn someone's space!

    The lighting was pretty dark by the time I got home from work so I decided to shoot outside.  As you can see, fall is in full force up here in Canada!

    If you are living in the Winnipeg area amidst the fall season, you can purchase the Sky Blue Vintage Chair here!

    Hope you have a lovely Monday evening and talk to you soon...

    Inspired by...Paste

    While flipping through the new issue of House Beautiful this weekend, I came across these delightful little pieces of artwork.  They company is called Paste and well...that is exactly what artist Denise Fiedler does! Using the pages of old books, she creates collage-style paste art.  I'm especially drawn to her collection of chairs.  The third is my favourite and I think it would look perfect hanging in my studio!

    {All images via Paste}

    She also does these amazing collages of animals, fashion imagery and portraits.  You can check out her full collection on her website.

    What do you think of this nouveau collage as art?

    26 September 2010

    Before and After: Dotty Aqua Bedside Table

    I momentarily blanked on taking a proper before shot of this simple little bedside table.  But picture it - dark brown wood with an ornate brass hanging pull...you with me?  I managed to take a snap mid-priming, at least for blogging purposes!

    This was the perfect opportunity to use one of my new fabulous knobs from Anthropologie, so I settled on a simple paint job in a bold colour.  The colour is an aqua blue green, one of the new mistints I just picked up from Benjamin Moore.  The cream and aqua polka-dot knob is the little jewel that really pulls it all together.

    Cute eh?  It was hard to resist 'over-accessorizing' with paper accents but that knob is just too special to compete with other details.  I think it would be fab in a girly girl's bedroom!

    If you live in the Winnipeg area and are hunting for that perfect bedside table, you can buy the Dotty Aqua Bedside Table from Lather Creations here!

    Have a lovely evening!

    Before and After: Jeanette's Crisp White Table

    Happy Sunday! I've been working on a commission for a lovely lady named Jeanette.  She brought me this old rustic wooden table, which she had rescued from Kijiji and was hoping Lather Creations could turn it into something special.  Here is the before...

    Rustic is a nice way of saying the table was in pretty rough shape.  But J was sweet enough to hand scrape the top for me, which brought it down to a smooth surface.  I sanded down the rest and primed it good.  Several coats of white paint brightened it up, while finish sealed the deal. 

    I had originally contemplated distressing the table to blend better with the roughness, but I ended up loving how fresh it looked without.  It really highlights all the nice curves and angles.  But I love that you can still see the outlines of the boards, it's a great mix of old and new.The drawer was dressed up with Japanese paper in a cherry blossom print with a bit of added sparkle in a crystal pull.

    Here's the crisp new after!

    Have a fantastic Sunday my friends!

    25 September 2010

    From the Kitchen: Easy Banana Muffins

    So I go to make something for breakfast and I see 3 sad brown bananas looking up at me from the fruit bowl.  My Martha Stewart instincts kick in and I decide to turn them into happy muffins.  I found this amazingly easy recipe from Canadian chef Cat Can Cook, so I thought I would share. 

    No really, they are soooo easy!  Trust me, you need 2  bowls, one for wet ingredients and 1 for dry.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Wet ingredients
    3-4 ripe bananas
    3/4 cup of white sugar
    1 egg
    1/3 cup melted butter

    Dry ingredients
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    pinch of salt
    1 1/2 cups flour

    Blend each bowl, well then combine them, mixing thoroughly.  That's it.  No really, that's it!  Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins, filling them 1/2 to a 1/3 full.  I topped each one with a pecan for a little bit of flair.  Bake for 20 minutes.

    Now try not to eat them all in one sitting...

    What's your easy bake treat?  Do tell so I can surprise J with some more deliciousness!

    Delightful DIY: Luggage Laptop Desk

    So speaking of vacation, J and I are currently planning our 2011 holiday.  We have a week and we're contemplating a Boston/Cape Cod trip or a heading west to North Vancouver Island/Tofino.  Any other recommendations to add to the mix?

    Don't you just love packing up your luggage as you bubble with anticipation for your departure?  It's one of my favourite parts of travelling!  They truly don't make luggage the way they used to and I love the look of old vintage suitcases in delicious colours like these.

    {Images via Pinterest}

    I came across this amazing DIY project over at fellow Winnipeg blogger Everything is Ticketyboo that just knocked my socks off and I had to share.  Author Zenbecca turned an old suitcase into the ultimate laptop desk.  It's just so brilliant!

    She makes it sound so easy!  And you can pick up gorgeous old character luggage for a steal at most thrift stores and antique shops.  Read all about her delightful DIY here

    Any other ideas to add to the mix before J and I settle on a vacation destination?  Remember we only have a week and we'd like to keep it in North America for easy access from Winnipeg.  We love to mix exploration with relaxation...

    Have a lovely Saturday friends!

    24 September 2010

    New Studio Arrivals

    You didn't really think I'd relax on my vacation day did you?  I've been out stocking up on supplies while my works-in-progress dry between coats.  Here's some new arrivals to the Lather Creations studio.

    Some great thrift finds just waiting to be transformed.  Like this super sturdy bedside table...

    A classic side table with elegant curves...

    And this to-die-for art deco chair, which was definitely over the usual LC budget but I just couldn't resist the music-inspired carving.  Perfect for the musician in your life, non?

    I visited the lovely ladies at Benjamin Moore to update my mistint collection and settled on these fab shades...

    I found these perfect pewter cup pulls in the bargain bin at the Habitat Restore for only a buck each...

    And as the icing on the cake, my Etsy order of fabric arrived from Swanky Swell!  They look even juicier in person! Talk about motivation to get the creativity flowing!

    The rest of the weekend will be a nice mix of family visits and projects.  What are you going to be getting up to this gorgeous fall weekend my friends?