A Sweet Buffet with Boho Edge

Well how about that snow, Northeast peeps?! God is just a magnificent Creator, isn't He. The kids will probably be out of school until March so if you've got any favorite indoor activities to share, send them forward! :)

Right before the holidays this past Fall I came home with a piece that wasn't really my particular cup of tea. And it definitely wasn't what I was looking for. What I really had a hankering for was to refinish a credenza or a china cabinet, like this, or this. But everyone's got an Achilles heel of some sort and mine happens to be long and low pieces that are less than $100. These days that's a hard find to come by. But my budget is important and something I do my best not to bend too much because my intention is to produce beautiful, affordable furniture for those looking to fill their homes on a slim budget. With prices on used pieces rising significantly, I've realized I need to bend my expectations of what I'll find in my price range, rather than my price range. And if I'm going to take on pieces that aren't my style wheel house, well then I just need to work extra hard to bring them up to speed!

What really bothered me about this piece originally was this decorative ivy. I mean, why?? I just didn't understand why it was there or how it added anything to this piece that already seemed to have a lot going on, (fancy legs, chunky hardware, freckled wood). My first step was going to be sanding it down and getting the surface smooth and ready for paint. But then something strange happened.

Not only did I not even try to hide the ivy, I went to painstaking measures to carve it out during 3 sittings in freezing cold temperatures in my garage shop! Maybe it was brain freeze, but I suddenly wanted to see the ivy carved through white paint, accented with aged brass hardware.

I think it was the desire for a challenge that lead me to maintain the original look of this piece but in a really cool bohemian chic way. And I knew that to pull this plan off it would come down to the styling. Because a white piece of furniture with carved ivy and brass pulls is still just a white piece of furniture with carved ivy and brass pulls. Are you with me?

I styled the sweet thing two different ways; one more clean and edited, and one care free and over the top. Here's a looksie!


I used my favorite earthy palette of rich browns and rust tones to bring out the sophistication of the piece. The hardware was a critical choice and I went through three different options before deciding on this set. I wanted the aged brass to stand out and the rich colors styled with the piece here do that well, I think.

A chunky woven tray from Target containing clay potted plants and wooden candle sticks still speaks that laid back boho language, but with subtle formality. Like with a British accent.

I didn't over-distress this piece as I've been doing more recently, but rather focused on the edges and corners to highlight the unique details and shape of the piece. Still, I love a well worn surface so I took a little extra off the top just for fun. I really should read Jane Eyre. I use it for styling enough.

Since pieces like this are sought out for their versatility I didn't do anything to alter the interior! The storage makes this a fantastic piece to be used as a dresser or dining room buffet, while the center compartments also add the option to place shelves where the drawers are and use the piece as a media center!

The second way I styled this piece was really for me. Hah! If I ever have a dining room buffet, whether in our current house or a future one, I'd use it just like this: An in-home greenhouse.

Man, watering would be SO much easier if I kept all these guys together regularly!

The carved ivy just fits right in with the real ivy cascading out of the drawer. :)

This piece was a really wonderful learning experience for me in taking something I wouldn't normally refinish and putting my style into it. It's a more feminine and sweet piece than I'm normally into, but feminine with a dash of daring is just smashing.

I absolutely adore this ivy. Who would ever consider covering it up?? ;)

Piece now available
73.5"L x 30.5"H x 18"D

Thank you all so much for coming by!

Staging Smart: Tips For Staging Small Pieces

Hello, friends! Following up my earlier post this week on the importance of staging refinished furniture, (for the purpose of selling), I thought it might be fun to talk about staging different pieces. Today I'll cover smaller pieces like end tables and accent chairs, and next week we'll discuss the larger beasts.

For whatever reason, I find it more difficult to stage a smaller piece. I love playing with the surface and surrounding of a large dresser or china cabinet, but when all I have is a small footprint to work with, I tend to scratch my head staring at it. I don't really have a specific 'formula' to share, but I've learned that it's okay to stage smaller pieces a bit 'abstractly'. It's not likely that anyone would place a little table floating rogue on the open floor, but it's okay to stage it that way!

It's also okay to settle these small pieces in and sprinkle a little 'life' around them. Some of my go-to accessories for small tables include an open book or neat stack of books, fresh flowers, succulents, and pretty candles. We don't use all of these at once, but it's fun to play with one or two, step back, and see what looks the most natural.

Accent chairs are also one of those pieces that can be a little tricky to stage photos. Accent chairs are just that - accents to a whole, finished room. Taking a picture of one by itself just feels a little bit awkward. Just like with small tables,  it's okay to keep it simple but still bring a bit of energy to your shots. Go ahead and get artistic with your shots. Play with angles, with lighting, with accessories. The top right photo below was a really different kind of shot for me. I had just refinished this antique chair that was passed down from my husbands grandparents. I refinished it in a soft color but wanted to stage it with a bit more life to show it's versatility - that even pale painted antiques can be edgy. :)

Do you have any small piece staging tips that you could share? If you've got photos we'd  love to see! Share either on our Facebook wall or Instagram, using the tag #stylemuttrefinishes. Next week we'll be back with more staging fun!

Have an awesome weekend and thank you for stopping by!

Staging Smart: Why it's important ||Plus a fresh piece revealed||

Hi All! With each year that I've been refinishing furniture, I learn something big. Early on, it was basic refinishing techniques. Then I started to discover my own style, and began applying technique to a particular look. This past year what I learned had less to do with the process of refinishing a piece of furniture, and more to do with the community of those sharing the same passion. 

Cate and I are still in the process of building StyleMutt and are in no rush to achieve every last one of our hopes and dreams for this small business. It's a brick-by-brick process and we are OK with that. But, the first thing we wanted to accomplish together was defining what StyleMutt would be. We desire for StyleMutt to be a helpful resource to its readers; a welcoming place to find inspiration, tips & tricks, and enjoy being a part of a community with similar interest.

With the furniture refinishing boom growing more popular each year, we see even greater importance in pulling together to share helpful information. Rather than simply share the 'Before + After' photos of newly refinished pieces, we'd like to share new tips and techniques that we're learning as well. There is a lot of information for how to refinish furniture floating around the web, but we'd like to extend our focus to include how to refinish, market and sell your furniture, if that is what you desire to do. With so many talented creatives refinishing and selling furniture, it can be difficult to make your work stand out and move your inventory at a comfortable pace. We have by no means perfected how to market and sell our pieces, but together we have sold around 225 pieces over our combined 7 years of experience, and have learned a few significant things that we feel help our pieces move.

To begin, we'll be using a few posts to discuss staging, starting today!

One of the most important things you can do for a piece you've put time and work into is show. it. off. Bring it inside wherever you feel you have the best lighting, and create a beautiful scene around it. Careful not to let the piece get 'lost', but don't be afraid to add a lamp, a stack of books, a vase of pretty flowers - simple items that help show your piece in context. I specifically like to show versatility with pieces I refinish. A dresser can serve as an entryway catchall, or a dining room buffet. A console table can function as a desk. Try staging your piece a couple different ways to show potential buyers that your piece would be a multi-purpose investment for their home. 

Here is an example of a piece hot out of the garage and currently available for sale, that I staged two very different ways:

This mid-century modern china cabinet could serve as a library in a study or living room, or as a traditional dining room storage piece. Help potential buyers to see value in versatility. Don't you? I know for me personally, I'd rather put my money into something that I could move around and use differently someday, rather than something that's going to be a one-trick pony forever. Take photos in both settings and share both when you post your piece to sell! 

Here is the mid-century cabinet in my living room:

mcm cab1 DONE.jpg

And in the dining room:

And don't forget the close-ups so folks can see the details that give your piece additional character!

It's can be difficult to imagine how a piece of furniture might look in your home or where you'd place it, especially if you're only looking at pictures of a piece in someone's garage or sitting on their driveway. Make it easy for people looking at pictures of your piece to really see its potential. Proper staging and a dash of versatility, (when possible), go a long way. It takes effort, yes, but if you feel your piece is worth $X, take the time to make it LOOK worth $X! If it doesn't look fantastic in your pictures, it will be hard to convince people to take the time to see it in person. Just my two cents. :)

Two-Tone Mid-Century China Cabinet
Please contact chelsea@stylemutthome.com if interested in a something similar!

Thank you all so much for stopping by! Have a wonderful day!