Thursday, September 26, 2013

Beach House Dining Part 2: Chairs

Hello! Welcome back to Salt Marsh Cottage. Today, I'm continuing my series on beach house dining rooms by looking at options for chairs. Reviewing my inspiration photos, the chairs seem to fall into one of three categories: vintage-y wood chairs, woven seagrass or rattan chairs, and metal chairs--often in a rustic zinc finish. 

Here are some examples of wood chairs:

Savannah Magazine

The chairs in the photo on the left look like they were probably older dining chairs that were painted and recovered with this pretty striped fabric. Craigslist is a great source for dining chairs that have seen better days, but could easily be updated. Look for chairs that are solid and sturdy (not wobbly). Ignore the scratched finish and 70's fabric on the seats. Recovering seats is usually a snap. Often the seat pops out and the redo can be as simple as stapling new fabric over the old. If you're not up to a complete redo, however, plain wood chairs can be updated with a coat of paint in a beachy color, as seen in the photo on the right. I love the aqua color that was chosen for these chairs. 

Woven chairs, whether made of wicker, seagrass, or rattan, are a quintessential beach house look.


You may be able to find some vintage wicker that's in decent shape, but wicker isn't one of the most durable materials, especially if it was used outdoors. Feel free to mix and match styles--they don't need to all look the same.

If you can't find vintage pieces in good shape, there are also some great retail options. The parson's chair is a classic look that works very well in wicker. The chair on the left is from A set of two is just under $200. The chairs on the right are from World Market. A set of two, usually $200, is on sale now for $180.
World Market

For an excellent budget option, consider the Agen chair from Ikea (right). It's just $35.


If you're looking for something a little edgier, metal chairs might be the way to go.  As seen here, these chairs contrast well with a rustic wood table.

Den Gode Feen


I found some retail options for metal chairs from Overstock and World Market. The Tabouret Bistro steel chairs from Overstock (top) come in several colors, including silver (shown here) and a darker finish called "vintage". A set of two is $160. The Jackson Metal Tub chairs from World Market (bottom) are usually $120, on sale now for $100. They are also available in a dark distressed finish for the same price.

So how do you go about choosing chairs to go with your table? The main thing to avoid is a matchy-matchy look. It makes a room look dull and dated. For example, a rustic wood table looks great with metal chairs, but a metal-topped table (like the Messina table from Ballard seen here) needs something softer, like wicker. If you use wood chairs, make sure the finish contrasts with the finish of your table--either by using two different paint colors or by choosing a different finish altogether (e.g. paint vs. plain wood). Also, use caution with "distressed" looks. I love distressed pieces and distressed furniture can create a lovely patina in a room, but if overdone (i.e. every piece of furniture in the room is distressed), it looks less special and more just worn out. It's the juxtaposition of materials, colors, and textures that makes a room interesting. On the other hand, avoid introducing too many different elements in one room. Repeat the finishes and colors you use somewhere else in the room. For example, you could pick up the turquoise color of your striped chair fabric in a painted turquoise side table or in a display of colorful dishes. Zinc-colored metal chairs could be echoed in cabinet hardware. Remember--you need both contrast and cohesion to make a room work.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Maine Cottage Dresser Knock Off

Maine Cottage Nellie Dresser: $1890
My version: $94

Remember the Guest Room challenge? The "inspiration" room I put together came to more than $3500. I challenged myself to recreate this room for less than $500. And here is the first project--a knock off of the $1890 Maine Cottage Dresser in "Goodegg" for under $100. Well, I did it for $94--and I think it looks pretty darn good! Here's the step-by-step process.

Step 1: Assembling the materials:
The first thing I needed was a dresser. I perused Craigslist for a couple of weeks looking for something that resembled my inspiration piece. I found this one for $60--right within my budget. Pretty basic, but the lines were good, all the drawers slid smoothly, and the joints were dovetailed. 

Everything else came from the hardware store: 2 quarts of oops paint, a container of Plaster of Paris, paste wax, and contact paper to line the drawers.


Materials List:
Craig's List dresser: $60
2 quarts oops paint from hardware store: $12
Plaster of Paris: $6
Contact paper to line drawers: $6
Paste wax: $10
Total cost: $94

Step 2: Making chalk paint:
I have never used ASCP. From everything I've read, it is amazing stuff and is probably far superior to the homemade variety. That said, I am both cheap and stubborn. I like to experiment and I like doing things myself (or at least trying to), so I could not resist the temptation to try making my own chalk paint. I have to say, I am quite pleased with the results (not to mention the price). I checked out a number of chalk paint "recipes" from Pinterest and ended up combining ideas from several and then kind of winged it. I decided to use Plaster of Paris as opposed to unsanded grout simply because it was more readily available (OK, it's also cheap). Here's how I did it:

First, I mixed the paints to get the color I wanted. I chose two cans of paint from my stash of oops paint. I was going for the greenish-blueish color of the inspiration piece, so I decided to use a mixture of Benjamin Moore Harrisburg Green and Mythic Paint Heavenly Angels.

BM Harrisburg Green HC-132
Mythic Heavenly Angels 041-3

I started out by pouring some of the Harrisburg Green into a pail. I then started gradually adding the Heavenly Angels, mixing as I went, until I was satisfied with the color. I probably used about 2 cups of the the green and a cup (or maybe less) of the blue. 


Next, I put about 1/2 cup of water in a separate container. I added 1/2 cup of the Plaster of Paris a little at a time, stirring constantly. I then slowly poured the plaster mixture into the paint, stirring until blended. By the way, I kept the leftovers (and I had a lot leftover) in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. It's stayed usable for months. It just needs to be stirred again before using.

Step 3: Painting the dresser.
Next, I started painting the dresser. Other than dusting it and removing the hardware and drawers, I did no prep at all--no sanding or priming. I figured that if it didn't work I could always repaint it. I put on the first coat and checked it out...and started to panic. It looked awful! The paint was patchy looking and the color wasn't uniform. But then, as it finished drying, it started to even out. By the time the coat was fully dry, it was looking great. (Moral of the story--this stuff looks bad until it's completely dry). I put on a second coat and let that dry overnight. I decided to paint the existing drawer pulls instead of changing them out. I did those separately.

Step 4: Waxing.
I decided to use a clear wax for a top coat. I applied the paste wax with a paint brush one surface at a time. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed off the excess with a soft rag. It was time consuming and took quite a bit of elbow grease, but I was very pleased with the result.

Step 5: Finishing touches.
I reattached the drawer pulls using the existing hardware. I decided to line the drawers to make them look nicer. I liked the way this black and white paisley-ish pattern looked against the aqua-colored paint.

And that was it! I love the way it came together. The color was perfect and I really like the soft finish from the paste wax. It was totally worth the effort.

The finished product!

Just one more look...

First, the $1890 inspiration:
Maine Cottage Nellie Dresser: $1890

And now my $94 knock off:
Salt Marsh Cottage Dresser $94

© Salt Marsh Cottage 2013
TDC Before and After

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Beach House Dining Part 1: Tables

One of the things we like best about owning a beach cottage is having the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Unfortunately, the dining area in the existing house didn't have space for a large table. With the new house we're making sure to allow plenty of space for entertaining. Although the square footage of the living, dining, and kitchen areas is not going to be much bigger than what we had in our existing house, the open plan configuration will allow room for a nice big table. I'm thinking about a rustic, farmhouse-style table, with seating for at least 8 people.

Let's start with some inspiration...

Elizabeth Newman
The Lettered Cottage


The Lettered Cottage
Whimsical Homes
Whimsical Homes

The common theme here is the long, rustic table with room for guests. I found some interesting possibilities for recreating this look while sticking to a reasonable budget. has several contenders:

I love the distressed, limed finish of this table. It's 36" x 72". This is a good size for a narrow space. It probably would seat 6 comfortably and 8 in a pinch. It's under $800.

This reclaimed teak would table is just under $1000. It's 71" x 36".

This is an interesting option from World Market: the Metal Wrapped Braxton dining table. It's 78" x 40" which would make it a little easier to fit in extra chairs. It's regularly $600, currently on sale for $500. 

World Market

The Messina dining table from Ballard Designs is a beautiful option. Like the Braxton table above, it has a metal top and the legs have a lovely distressed white painted finish. It's 32" x 76". Another good choice for a narrow location. $800.

Ballard Designs
The Stornas table from Ikea is a great option. Not only is it the least expensive, but it's also the largest and the only extendable table in this bunch. It's approximately 37" wide and ranges in length from 57" to 80". It's solid wood and only $329. 

Next post, I'll be looking at some interesting (and budget-friendly) dining chairs.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Beach House Entryways

Hello everyone!

One of the things I'm looking forward to in the new house is having an actual entryway. In the existing house, the front door opened right into the den. Other than a row of hooks on the wall behind the door, there was nowhere to stash bags, towels, jackets, water bottles, car keys, etc. The new entry will be modest at best, but there will be a coat closet, room for some wall mounted hooks, a small bench or stool, and places to corral small items (sun screen, dog leashes, keys) that we use all the time. A big improvement! 

Let's start with some basics.

Ikea Leksvik rack


Paddle Coat Rack

Reclaimed Driftwood Rack

Hooks for hanging coats, towels, and sweatshirts are essential. The Leksvik rack (top left) from Ikea is a classic look...and it's less than $10. Perfect for a beach house is this 8-arm hook in the shape of an octopus (top right). It's $48 from Anthropologie. And how cute is this coat rack made from old paddles (bottom right)? What a great idea. But my favorite is this upcycled driftwood piece (bottom left) by Stephen Saint-Onge. So simple, but so amazing. I'm going to start looking for suitable pieces of driftwood.

Reclaimed Sunburst Mirror

Console Table


It's handy to have a small, narrow table for mail, keys, and cell phones. This distressed blue table is perfect. Might be a good DIY project...A mirror is useful for a last check before going out the door. This reclaimed wood sunburst mirror would make an incredible focal point. It's also nice to have a vessel of some kind for keys and change. A pretty piece of vintage pottery is a good choice. I found these on Etsy for $27.50.

Coastal Style

Coastal Style

Simple entry
Having a bench for putting on and taking off shoes, a place to hang things, and some cubbies for storage, is an ideal set up. Although it would be great to have room for something large, even a small bench (right) would do the trick.

Baskets, boxes, and totes are very useful for storing small items. The choices are plentiful and the prices range from modest to astounding. 


Restoration Hardware

These baskets from Ikea are sturdy and cute. They come in this wonderful beachy gray color and cost $7.99 for the small size. I also love these industrial metal storage boxes from Restoration Hardware. The media box shown is $55.

Vintage Locker Basket

Vintage locker baskets are another fun option for storage. I found this one on Etsy for $25. If you're looking to stash larger stuff out of sight, this Daytrip Lidded Large Basket from Pottery Barn might fit the bill. It's on sale now for $63.

LL Bean

And last, but not least--tote bags. The first summer we had our cottage, we purchased several L.L. Bean Boat & Tote bags to carry everything from clothes to food to laundry back and forth between our house and the cottage. That was 1996. Now, 17 years later, we still have and still use these same tote bags. Although they could probably use a run through the washer, they are as good as new. This has to be one of the best purchases we ever made. Heck, they were in the house when the hurricane came through. The house was a wreck, but the bags are just fine. What more can I say?