New year, new project.  

By Sarah from Atomic Magpie

Happy 2017! We know that a lot of people were happy to see the back of 2016 but, for us, it was a great year. A big thank you to everybody that supported Atomic Magpie throughout the year! We look forward to the year ahead.

Happy New Year from Atomic Magpie!

Now, on with the show! The pile of “future projects” has been growing in the garage, and New Year’s Day seemed like a great time to tackle one. It was a quick and easy one, but fun none the less. It made a teensy dent in the pile, but some progress is better than none, right?

I picked up a pair of small, vintage stools for a couple of bucks on a local sell site a few months back, and when I was looking for a new place to put a plant in my bathroom, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

The “for sale” photo

I started off by wiping the whole piece down with a damp cloth, and lightly sanding the legs and wiping it down again. There was no rust, so prep was minimal on this one. 

No rust = easy prep!

After unscrewing the seat from the legs, I grabbed my ever trusty Rustoleum Metallic Gold and went to work. A couple of coats and it was done. 

Seat before
Legs before (see the foil on the bottom?)

I knew I wanted a two tone look, so I decided to go with a gold dipped look for the legs. I measured the legs and used aluminum foil to cover up the part I wasn’t painting. This is an old trick I’ve used for a while, easy to put on and off, and no risk of tape taking off any paint. The color I used was Rustoleum’s Ocean Mist. It’s a pastel, minty color that looks divine with a gold accent. I love it! 

Tin foil is your friend!

Put the whole thing back together, and voilà! Done. The perfect height and size for the spot I need it in…and, if I’m ever in a pinch for extra seating, I have a stool! 

Finished! From stool to plant stand.

QWERTY Martini

Recently, we had a customer ask us to find them a mid century era piece to use as a bar in a man cave. Something steampunkish and industrial, vintage and clean lined. So when I stumbled across this awesome 1960’s rolling metal typing desk stashed behind some old bookshelves and a discarded desk, I knew I’d found “the one”. 

Hidden away behind a pile of old furniture…bingo!
This style of desk was a staple in many offices during the 60’s & 70’s, and this beauty still had the original government “Property of…” sticker on the underside. The only thing that would have made this desk any cooler would have been the words “CIA” or “FBI” (instead of the County office in which it once resided).
Isn’t she lovely? Vintage Kromex Ice Bucket
Loaded with a cool c. 1952 whiskey decanter, some retro cocktail tumblers and a shiny, vintage Kromex ice bucket (you should really check out our store!) this bar quickly took shape.  
1950’s decanter – sweet bar accessories are a must!
Sturdy & vintage, this bar cart is a cool piece of history – I wonder if the person who once sat typing at this desk daily, ever imagined it would one day serve this very swoon inspiring function? 

Cheers!
This piece really didn’t require much restoration, it was in great shape. Custom wooden wine bottle racks slide on to the bottom shelf and there is room for hanging wine glasses underneath. Perfect!

Fake it til you make it!

By Sarah from Atomic Magpie. 

I love mid century decor and heaven knows my house borders on being a museum, but sometimes the price sticker for an original piece can quickly put something out of reach (and straight onto my wish list!).

I’ve wanted a vintage starburst mirror for ages, but I’ve never found one that I loved enough to spend the big bucks on. So when I saw this rusty, beat up, department store effort on a local swap and sell site (FOR FREE!), I knew I could make it (aka fake it) into something that scratched my Mid Century Starburst itch…well, for now anyway!

Before. A little bit tacky and way too bedazzling

Before I continue, I need to confess – this thing sat in my garage for months before I touched it. In fact, I avoided it….refusing to even look at it. I’m not sure why exactly, but now that it’s done, I wonder why I was so intimidated by a piece of metal. Anyhoo, I digress. This mirror was rusty and grimy. The smaller mirrors were either falling off or gone, which was ok because I hated them. And that was the first step – after removing the large center mirror for safety, I used pliers and pushed/popped the smaller mirrors off. This was not too hard as many of the joins had rusted.

Mangled baby mirrors

I worked my way around the frame until all the small mirrors were gone. As bad as the rust looks in the photos, thankfully it was only surface deep, and none of the rods had rusted through.

Is it seven years bad luck if you break a mirror deliberately?

Once I had removed all the small mirrors, I wiped the whole thing down with a wet rag. This is where it got a little messy. A lot of the paint starting flaking off in chunks where the rust had lifted it. These chips of paint stuck to everything – the rag, my hands, the drop cloth, you name it. After removing as many of the obvious paint flakes as I could, I went over the whole thing thoroughly with 200 grit sandpaper to remove peeling paint and rust. This part was laborious, mostly because every time I thought I was done, I’d see another patch I had missed. I’d say I spent about an hour sanding. Not my favourite thing to do, but necessary.

Almost there!

Once I had gotten as much of the rust and paint off as possible, I sprayed the whole thing with a coat of Killz primer with rust protection. I then followed up with 3 coats of my ever trusty Rustoleum Metallic Gold. It is by far my favourite gold spray paint, I love the final colour and tone.

And there you have it! A modern day starburst mirror, with a mid century vibe. Love it!

After1-001
Starburst in the Afternoon Sunshine….Fabulous!

Time flies when you’re having fun! 

Wow, we can’t believe it has been a year since our little mid century table makeover! Not only was the response on social media amazing, but it was featured on one of our very favourite design websites, Apartment Therapy, as one of their Before & After projects! It also appeared on the Norwegian design website “Kreative Ideer”.  So cool! 

Click on the photo to check out the story behind this fab table makeover! 

A mid century rescue

Do you know the way to San Jose? (an Eichler pictorial)

By Sarah from Atomic Magpie

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the Fairglen tract, just outside of downtown San Jose, home to one of the iconic Eichler neighborhoods. Inspired by the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, Joseph Eichler was a prominent property developer in the late 1940’s-1960’s, and was responsible for these very unique neighborhoods.

Eichler Homes sidewalk stamp
 
img_6822
Gorgeous streamlined frontage & flat roof
I did a short walking tour through the tree-lined streets, and imagined life way back when, in this Mid Century time capsule. It is a design and architecture lovers dream.

img_6820
Slightly A-framed roof, still low profile
img_8975
Yard facing glass walls
There’s something special about warm wood paneled walls, interior atrium, window walls and flat roofs, and these stunning San Jose Eichler’s are a true piece of Mid century modernist architecture. The open plan and airy feel were considered futuristic by many, and have influenced many design trends since.

img_9115
Iconic original kitchen cabinetry & glass wall
img_9116
Exposed wood beam ceilings, and stunning wood paneled walls. Swoon!
img_9113
More fabulous wood paneling & radiant heated floors.
img_9114
Afternoon silhouettes, windows galore!
img_9117
A gorgeous Mid Century abode, appointed with a mixture of modern and vintage pieces. Perfection! (Vintage Lava Drip glaze lamp & Mirro Medallion candy dish courtesy of Atomic Magpie!)
Street after street of these gorgeous, well preserved and respected homes make this neighborhood a treat to wander. Original fixtures, gates & mailboxes, some updated, some preserved, all fabulous. Anyone with an interest in all things Mid Century, or even those who just appreciate classic architecture, should go take a stroll around one of these incredible neighborhoods. You wont regret it!

To check out our selection of Mid-Century treasures, click here

From TV Dinner to Happy Hour!

By Sarah from Atomic Magpie

Recently, I picked up a couple of vintage tray tables for a few bucks. You know the kind, the ones that fold up and fit neatly down the side of your fridge or couch. Metal trays for eating TV dinners on the couch, all the rage in the 50’s and 60’s. They were in rough condition, but I loved the shape of the legs (anyone that follows my projects knows about me and great legs!)

Before. It’s hard to see how damaged the tray is, but it was
 
I knew the tray tops were pretty close to unsalvageable, as they were dinged and rusty and chipped. It’s hard to tell from the photos just how beat up the trays were, but trust me, they were. When it comes to vintage furniture, I’ll almost always attempt a restoration over a revamp, but alas it wasn’t an option this time. The legs were in much better shape, so I set about to repurpose them. I wiped them down with a wet rag and lightly sanded them with 200 grit sand paper. Next I applied a thin coat of Kilz spray on primer with rust protection. I did the same to the trays, just to see how they might look with some paint on them (the answer is – not much better). Accepting that the trays were beyond help, as I had originally figured, I decided to ditch them and move onto another plan.
  
I’m all about the legs!
 I covered the black feet caps with painters tape and applied two coats of Rustoleum’s metallic gold paint to the legs, making sure I gave them plenty of time to dry in between coats. I finished them with a quick spray of Rustoleums clear coat.

I had an old wooden tray lying around that was the perfect size to fit in the legs, it even had a ledge on the bottom, so the legs just clipped in without sliding all the way open. I painted the tray with Rustoleum’s flat black. Once it had dried fully, I found some awesome paper, which I cut to the size of the tray. Using Mod Podge, I applied a thin layer to adhere it and, when it dried, I applied another layer over the top to seal. After my Peacock table makeover and the Mod Podge freak out I had then, I knew the bubbles this time were normal and would go away once dried, which they did. Easy. 
 

Voila! A portable bar table
 
So there you have it. A quick and simple repurpose – from a TV dinner tray table, to a sweet, portable bar table. Easy and fab!
Cocktail time!
 

Tiptoe through the Tulips…

By Sarah from Atomic Magpie

Recently, I was lucky enough to snag a trio of vintage Tulip style chairs for a steal. They were rusty, dirty and scuffed and needed a lot of love but, with bones like these, impossible to resist. Widely considered to be a classic of industrial design, the Tulip chair was designed by Finnish born designer Eero Saarinen in the mid 1950’s for Knoll. The smooth, modern lines of this chair have made it an iconic mid-century piece, and one I could not pass up.

Before, the “for sale” pic
Another photo from the
More before!

After giving the chairs a good look over,  I realized that the fiberglass uppers were actually in pretty decent shape and mostly just in need of a really thorough cleaning. That said, it was a good hour of scrubbing and buffing to get them into tip top shape. I started with a little regular kitchen cleaner to get the first layer of grime off, I then followed up with a magic eraser. Which lived up to its name! The chairs were shiny in no time.

Clean and shiny. The holes are where the seat pads attach...more on that later.
Clean and shiny. The holes are where the seat pads attach…more on that later.

The metal bases were another story – covered in rust and dings. Thankfully the rust was only surface deep and hadn’t eroded any of the metal too seriously. I started by sanding them (wearing a breathing mask of course!) with a coarse 100 grit sandpaper, which removed most of the obvious rust. I followed up with a 220 grit to smooth it all out. In between I used a wet rag to wipe away the rust and dirt that was coming off. Some parts of the bare metal were exposed, but I was able to get a smooth surface pretty easily.

Close up of the base

In much of my research of restoring tulip chairs I had read about the difficulties many people had faced with getting the bases back on the seats after removing them, so I opted not to take them off, and instead covered the seats. This was mostly because I get frustrated by mechanical things easily and knew I would probably struggle to get them back on in a timely manner. I’m also rather impatient. So trash bags and painters tape it was, and this worked perfectly.

High end paint protection
High end paint protection

I then primed the bases using “Killz” spray on primer containing rust protection. After letting this dry, I used Krylon’s  prime and paint in one, in Ivory. My only advice here is DO NOT USE KRYLON spray paint. I followed the instructions to the T, I shook the can for a good two minutes and the paint came out lumpy. Like little sand granule sized lumps. Freak out, lose my mind, lumpy.  So, I had to let this dry completely and sand it off and start the process over (cursing Krylon’s name the whole time). Once I was back to square one, I used my old trusty Rustoleum Heirloom White. This was MUCH BETTER and I should have stuck with what I knew. Lesson learned.

One coat down
One coat down

I did 3 light coats of paint, letting  each one properly dry in between. I’ve learned over the course of a few projects that when it comes to spray painting, the best finish comes from multiple light layers, as opposed to drowning the first layer. Of course, I’ve read this a million times, but had to learn it for myself. So, take my word for it, it’s true. Once it was fully dried (I let it sit for 24 hours) I went over with a final layer of Rustoleum’s spray on Ultra cover clear gloss.

Finished!
Finished!

So here is the mostly finished result. These chair pads aren’t the ones I’m going to ultimately use, they’re a temporary fix until the proper ones are finished. I just couldn’t wait to share, but will update the pics as soon as the new pads are complete.

Love!

Fab!

C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me!

Like our favorite blue monster, we have our share of cookie fanatics around here, and what better way to fabulously display and store glorious cookies, than this mod-tastic cookie jar! Made in the USA, with a whopping 3 liter capacity, we just love this vintage gem.

Cookie Jar
Click the image to view this item in our store.

And now, just because we love him…Cookie Monster!

A horse of a different colour

What a great idea! We just love seeing items being used for things beyond their original purpose. Take this fantastic David Douglas designed 1960’s coffee pot – looks perfect holding fruit and herb infused water at a summer party. Delish!

For more great mid century coffee pots, visit our store!

Thanks to Jeanne for the photo!
Thanks to Jeanne for the photo!

Sew much effort!

By Sarah from Atomic Magpie

Before
Before. “Oh, easy!”

Once in a while I come across a makeover project that makes me think “oh, easy!” and this little sewing cabinet was no exception. I mean, lots of flat surfaces and straight lines, an easy strip, stain and seal and “Bob’s your uncle!” Well, no. Not this time. I loved this little table from the get-go, I hated it for moments, but in the end, I’m still enamored.  That top drawer that flips around to hold bobbins and reels, so unusual and unique. Hard to pass up.

So unique!
So unique!

It wasn’t the 50 years of peeling paint underneath that was work, it was the freshest coat that had been slapped on top recently to cover it that made this project a sticky, messy nightmare. And all those straight lines? Hmm, yes, well, except for the grooves on the trim.  The MANY grooves on the trim. Not fun. And then there’s the drawer fronts. Yep, they’re flat alright, flat…but textured. With this odd layer of some kind of raffia or thatched laminate stuff. Stripping wasn’t even an option for those parts.

So many layers!
So many layers!

So to say the prep was difficult, is an understatement. This wee gem took days of paint stripping, and for moments, a little piece of my soul. Then, those grooves…well, I tried everything from scrapers to wire brushes to steel wool to skewers. I finally got there, but in hindsight, sandblasting would have been the more effective option. Note to self.

Groovy. But not really.
Groovy. But not really.

Next up, sanding. This part was the easiest of all. My snazzy Black & Decker orbital sander whizzed through and made the surface silky smooth in a jiffy. Things were looking up, because the last step in front of me, staining, is the easiest thing ever, right? I tried Minwax stain in Special Walnut, it’s a favorite of mine. And do you think this wood would take the stain? Oh puhlease, no way. Admittedly, there were two types of wood in this cabinet, and in my enthusiasm I didn’t consider the impact this may have on the staining process….which was evidently huge.  So the stain on top looked great, on the sides looked OK, and on the front, looked awful. It was a patchy, streaky mess, no matter what I tried.

Love this orbital sander.
Sanding = the only easy part

It was at this point I went back to the trusty internet and this is where Gel Stain SAVED THE DAY. Gel stain, unlike traditional stain, is more like a paint. So it doesn’t soak into the wood, it sits on the surface. It’s a similar process, wipe on, wipe off, but the result was perfection. I used Minwax Gel stain in Hickory, and it was a rich, gorgeous tone that still let the wood grain shine through. Most importantly, it was even, smooth and consistent. Not a streak in sight. This stuff is GLORIOUS.

Gel Stain saves the day
Gel Stain saves the day

The last step was the drawer fronts which, as mentioned earlier, were this weird textured stuff which I actually kinda liked the look of, but wasn’t able to strip or stain (or remove completely without having to replace the entire face of the drawers. More effort than I was willing to put in at this point). So I painted. I had some amazing aqua blue “Island Oasis” paint left over from a table makeover, so I used that. A couple of chrome drawer knobs later, and a coat of Minwax polyurethane to seal the whole thing, and the cabinet looks stunning.

Aqua & Chrome. Swoon!
Aqua & Chrome. Swoon!

Worth the labor intensive process (I can say that now it’s over and I’m not knee deep in paint stripper and desperation)

Pretty fancy, don't you think?
Pretty fancy, don’t you think?