Et tu, Ikea??

I got the email Wednesday. I didn’t even read it – the title told me everything I needed to know, everything I had been waiting to hear since this time in 2013. Magic and hope and promise and excitement were coming soon to a mailbox near me:

The new Ikea catalog was on its way.

I want to be clear: I don’t live in an Ikea showroom, but oh, there were times in my post-college but pre-career days that I sure wanted to, and it’s still set as my mental place to check first when I suddenly find I need – oh, I don’t know, anything really. A table, a lamp, an occasional chair, meatballs, plant pots, reindeer-shaped cake pans – all the life-or-death essentials, I guess.

Realistically, my eccentric old house, and oftentimes my eccentric old tastes, demand that I have little to do with stark lines, bold graphics, and slick plastic-and-pressboard accoutrement. Still…maybe it’s a visit from the Ghosts of Apartments past, but when the Big Book from the Mecha of Melamine arrives, it’s my version of Christmas.

It arrived on Thursday, and because I am an absolute masochist, I decided it was going to stay firmly shut until Saturday – a reward, I thought, for surviving a heck of a week. I cleared the coffee table of all lesser materials – begone, remotes! be banished, magazine! away, snobby art book that no one will ever use except as a coaster! – and put the catalog dead center, so that I couldn’t possibly not see it, couldn’t possibly forget that it was here! In my house! Just waiting!

Let’s gloss over how I found it the next morning in the kitchen, because despite a near-15-year acquaintance, my roommate did not automatically understand that this was not mere mail, it was Major Ceremony.

Let’s also gloss over how I love the new style-centered room designs they’ve used in the catalog, how they’ve nailed the perfectly yellow-embued green hues and green-rich turquoises AGAIN this year, and how seeing the catalog items I already own gives me a warm little thrill – hello, little Leirvik bed! Lovely to see you again, Ribba frames!

Let’s instead cut directly to the moment when Ikea, those glorious Swedish bastards, RIPPED MY HEART OUT AND SPAT ON IT.

You saw it, right? I mean…right there on page 229, bold as brass, like it just was no big deal at all.

A Hemnes linen cabinet…full of shoes.

FULL OF SHOES.

Maybe you don’t understand the problem here.

It’s a linen cabinet. It’s meant to hold linens. Towels, sheets, maybe the odd seagrass basket that takes up too much room to be of any use but looks decorative as hell.

as. it. is. meant. to. be.

I love this cabinet. I loved it in yellow, I love it in the current red, I’ll probably love it if it comes in puce, and I am still not sure what color that is. I have ogled analogs to this cabinet in competitor’s stores, antique malls, and garage sales for years now. This cabinet, in some form – even homage – has always been destined for my home.

But not for linens. Oh no. I don’t need a linen cabinet. I need a shoe-and-purse hutch. With glass doors. To display shoes and purses. Obviously.

How clever it was going to be! How novel! How unique! What a charming repurposing of a pretty-but-ultimately-utilitarian piece of furniture!

Damn those Swedes*. They really do think of everything.

* = it’s ok. my mom’s half Swedish. I’m allowed.

All that glitters

So a while back, Jenn sent me a link to a tray she found instant, swoony love with on etsy. I took a peek, and had two nearly-simultaneous thoughts:

screenshot

1.) Instant, swoony love is an unfaithful beast, and we are just going to have to make this work somehow.

2.) $98? $98?? NINETY EIGHT DOLLARS? That better be real gold. It also better smell like cookies and hand-wash my laundry for me. For $98, the snozzberries sure as hell better taste like snozzberries.

Don’t get me wrong, I am usually a huge proponent of the idea that there really isn’t too high a price to pay for The Perfect Thing, but this seriously challenged that belief system.

Out with the instant, swoony love and in with the throwing of gauntlets: surely, SURELY we could make something passably similar? You know, like, for any dollar amount UNDER $98??

After our last foray into a challenge like this, Jenn insisted on ground rules, because apparently admittedly, I cheat. So, the non-negotiables:

– start with this big, basic, under-$8 tray from ikea

– make it white and gold

– make it as cheaply as possible.

We weren’t even out of Ikea before Jenn was talking technical concerns like primer. Honestly I kind of zoned out, because I knew I had more than enough leftover chalk paint from prior projects. Primer? That’s just precious. Excuse me while I just slap down some no-fail covers-anything Old White magic.

onecoat

No need for primer here!

I was blissfully unconcerned with sparse and wibbly first coat coverage because, well, first coat. This wasn’t my first chalk paint rodeo. I’ve thrown this stuff down on some of the grossest things a thrift store run has ever produced, and it never fails me. My faith in Annie Sloan was absolute.

Until.

crackalack

UNTIL!

Here’s the thing: I am not super great at reading directions. So I didn’t really stop and read the “if you have left this can of paint sitting idle in a drawer for more than a year, do the following” that was super-clearly printed on the label. Actual instructions: flip over, shake like crazy. What I did: half-assedly stirred with a chopstick, then started painting.

So, basically, my faith in chalk paint and my faith in my ability to make new and awesomely stupid mistakes pretty much daily both escaped unscathed.

In the meantime, I had a project to salvage. So…yeah. Primer to the rescue.

primed

Sigh.

I went heavy handed, mostly due to blind panic, and partly due to beer. Also, it’s very possible that I was using spray primer and in my kitchen and with no thought what so ever to ventilation. Because I am super smart.

When it came time to gild this fume-heavy melamine lily, I ditched the straight lines entirely. My reasoning was simple: this rectangular tray was going to go onto my rectangular dining table in my rectangular dining room. Any opportunity to add a soft edge and a little swirl of curve and curl was just not to be missed.

swirl

$2 paint pen at the craft store + 30 minutes of harnessing my adolescent self, who majored in swirly doodles in high school = oh. hell. yes.

golden

Total cost: new materials, tray included, $10. Primer, paint, and brushes were already on hand. So was the beer I pounded in a panic when the paint started chipping away on me, for that matter.

Net result: instant, swoony love? Not really. But I like what I’ve got. And clearly, it likes living in my dining room, where it’s already played host to condiments and salt and pepper shakers for a family dinner and served as a catch-all for my garden planning notes.

inplace

I’m a little worried about its long-term durability, thanks to the early panic, but I’m pretty sure there was some polyurethane in the same drawer as the chalk paint. Don’t worry, I’ll remember to shake it really well before I use it.