My Custom Built Farmer’s Table Home Office Desk

 I know many of you have been waiting for this, with all of my teasing about it! And I have been dying to show you my custom-built farmer’s table home office desk, that that my husband made for me.  For this first post, I am simply sharing with you the build itself, and some of the story behind it.  In upcoming posts, I will show you my workspace all set up and pretty. (When I get that far.)

So first, to put my appreciation and excitement in context here, you should know how I have been working.

In this large amoire in the photos below, is our TV, which we rarely use at all. But behind it was my work cubby.  It was always amusing when someone who had been to our house a few times before, before they realized there was a work space behind there.  They’d always react with such surprise and intrigue.  So come around the amoire (following the numbered photos), and see my little space I have had . . . . . 

It certainly was a workable idea for the past few years, in that it gave me a little privacy for editing client portrait work. It is rather organized and cleaned up here, but that is not how it has always appeared or felt. (I had already started cleaning out here, to empty this whole cubby.) To start, I hated the desk. The photo is deceiving I think, because this desk was SO large, and yet not efficient at all; with shelves I couldn’t easily get to, and virtually no storage or room to work.  With a modern design, fake wood laminate and black accents-ugh! I wanted it GONE.  And what a dust magnet this cubby has been!  Anyway, imagine on the desk-top, on either side, a tall pile of papers, notebooks and dozens of folders.  And not just here. When I worked on my laptop for school and blogging, I’d sit on the couch, where beside the couch was small table with another 2 piles of papers, notebooks and folders.  Then there is the school room, where I’ve kept all of my teacher books.  I can’t stand clutter or disorganization, so having everything everywhere has tended to make me cranky, and yelling when I couldn’t find something!

 Between homeschooling my 4 kids, their work needing correcting or keeping, educational planning stuff, their activity schedules, forms needing to be filled out, home and life maintenance with mail, bills and records and the like that needs to be kept up with, and my work paraphernalia for the blog and it’s website, it has felt like unorganized madness to me! I can’t manage and work my best like that. 

What I needed and wanted was one organized management center to work from, with a style that said me, and reflected our farmish/antique home decor.  A Pottery Barn home office knock-off, of sorts.  Yes please, Honey!

Whenever a new school year is about to turn over in the next 2-3 months, I always get into this nesting mode frenzy, wanting to get super organized and ready for the next year. So my chatter about my dream custom-built farmer’s table home office desk had picked up speed as of late!  I completely cleaned out that cubby, moved the amoire, and just gave away that huge desk to a very grateful girl, who really needed it.  It was going to be an all new space, that I could manage everything from.  Open, bright, stylish and cheery.
As always, Michael and I first got some initial drawings down on paper, which Michael threw out by accident! ; ( , and a few revisions later, Michael got to making it a reality for me. 

My design idea was simple;  the base of a plain old farmer’s table, with cubbies and shelving for storage. But it needed to be BIG. The full length of the wall opposite the large window, to accommodate and organize all areas of my life and family I need to manage, as well the larger equipment I need to do it, such as my 2 computers, hard-drives, copier, etc. 

So if you haven’t scrolled down and peeked already (uh-huh), the reveal is next. But I have to say, this was SO HARD to photograph with the lenses I have, as this desk is 7 feet long!  But every inch was custom designed with a purpose for it’s space. Take a look . . . . . .

Is it not GORGEOUS?!

While there were no initial plans for drawers at all, the craziest things happen to us, and we ended up with some beautiful ones! I’ll get to that story-bit in a minute, but as you can see, the general structure of the desk is very much a farmer’s table design.

Let’s talk about some of the details:

Simple table legs support the desk.

Now let me tell you about the drawers, which really have added such beauty to the piece as a whole.  In the beginning, I had just planned on using lots of cubbies and little containers, for all of the little things, all built upon a farmers table, much like the one we eat at in our sunroom. But the craziest blessing happen to us all of the time, and this amazing happenstance is no different: 

About the time the table was pretty much built, and yet still bare wood and unfinished (as seen above, minus the drawers), Michael had a job to go re-letter the back of one of his client account’s large moving trailer. While he was there on the job site, he went to throw some things in the dumpster. There, in the container, were 3 of these beautiful drawers and some big desk all broken apart! I can only imagine how beautiful the desk must have been, because the drawers are to me, breathe-taking.  Crazier, the slim design and depth of the drawers would fit and work perfectly within the table side of the desk he was building for me. So he grabbed the drawers, and all of the attachment trackings for them, and  brought them home.  I was astonished. I immediately fell in love with them, and he installed them.

Just look at the hardware!

Even the keyhole makes me gasp and smile inside.

They silently and smoothly just roll out, like butt-ah!

And the inside of the large drawer had me flipping out with joy . . . . . .

Talk about great quality. HOW, could anyone throw these drawers away?  And what a blessing just meant to be, that Michael was there at that site on this particular day, and looked in that waste container, right when we were building this project!  The waste removal company was coming to empty that container the very next morning! The drawers would have been gone forever.

These two smaller drawers were installed side by side, on the opposite end of the large one.   Take note of the bare wood before finishing.  Aside from the drawers, the table-top is made of cabinet grade plywood, while the rest is plain pine and bead board.  A very light color wood.

Now, how I was going to finish this desk, was such a torn-dilemma! I even did various techniques experiments on several scraps of wood, trying to decide:  Did I want to just paint it white and then sand it down to worn in various places?  Crackle it? Use some dark wax or antiqued glaze?

Honestly, it feels like such a big an important decision, that it kind of paralyzed me.  So I kept it simple for now, and will likely continue to alter the finish more when I decide on one, or all of the ways I am contemplating. But at least then it will be a thought-out decision. For now here’s all I did:

I sanded it to a worn state in specific places, such as corners, edges, and raised areas.

But because the wood underneath was so light, I went a step further using a possibly odd technique and medium, to bring the distress work out more . . . . . .

I mixed clear glaze and straight burnt umber watercolor paint.  I painted just over the areas where it was sanded to wood, let it sit a minute, and wiped off with a clean dry rag.  It stained the exposed under-wood just enough, to have a more distinct worn look.  As I said, I still may do some crackle work in areas, and/or antique it more with wax or glaze.  But I also expect it will get wear and age naturally, simply from me using it a lot, and owning it for a very long time to come. But for now, I am loving it as it is.

I am still ‘moving in’ to this large piece of furniture that is quickly organizing my whole world, and there will be a follow up post to show you how I arranged everything I needed in this space.  But as I said, parts of the desk were very specifically designed for certain things.  To give you one example today; that top left cubby you see, will hold my 4 external hard-drives, most of which are about to dumped of all client work. They are already mostly free space even still,  so I will be using them for a good many years to come, for external storage space for all of my other personal photo storage and designs.

As I am sure many of you know and will agree, it’s the accessorizing that is the most fun!  It’s the pretty little things, that really make a space yours, and I have always felt it’s important to surround yourself in your home and work space, with the things that make you feel those little leaps of joy inside. (Or that’s what happens to me, anyway. ; ) So I will be sharing with you all just how I’ll be utilizing the space of my new custom-built workspace, the ways in which it’s organizing my life, and all of the little things I love that make me smile, and maybe will make you smile too. Or give you some ideas of your own.

Another crazy blessing story-bit:  I had told Michael I would probably just use one of our regular white farm chairs at the desk, rather than a black computer chair.  But that some day, I would love to find a nice white office chair on wheels, much like the Pottery Barn chairs, that we could never afford. 
Well guess what he found and brought home with the drawers? . . . . . .

Again, for free. When Michael was chatting one of the moving company employees at the job site where he pulled the drawers out of the waste container, and told him all about this desk he built, the guy said, “I have a chair inside that went with the desk we got rid of, if you want to see it.” And this is what he brings out!  Oh, you know I’ll distress this some too, and get some pretty shabby-chic cushions for it.  But what a high-quality chair!  It not only is on wheels and swivels, but it rocks! I’m a rocker, still. Between my first baby-girl that loved to nurse forever, and then my triplets, Mama-rocking is a just part of my natural movement now. This is a big chair though. It definitely needs the cushions. I feel like a kid in it right now.  Michael was more excited about getting the chair for me, than the drawers. But the drawers were actually the biggest pleasant surprise for me.

So there it is! I know I am ridiculously blessed to have a husband whose skilled hands can create these things for me.  This desk would cost thousands of dollars, bought. And it wouldn’t be custom-built, for me and my specific needs. Or made with love! He’s built so many things for me, big and small.  This one is certainly very special to me, as it will really help me manage the most important aspects of my life; primarily teaching my children, and managing our family details, and lastly, doing what I can to help my husband provide for us, through blogging, which I love to do anyway. 

I do apologize for the length of this post and number of photos, but there was a lot to share with you, and I’ve been SO excited to!
Wouldn’t you be? Tell me what you think of it! Do you have a special space in your home, that helps keep you organized and everything managed? Please tell us about it, and leave any ideas you may have for us as well.  Thanks so much for coming by and looking!

Motor Vehicle License Plate Refurbishing / Before and After

Many of you probably already know that my husband, Michael, letters company trucks, does vehicle graphics and makes business signs. If you’re curious to see some of the kind of work he does, you can click on ‘Photography & Lettering’ in the menu above, and look to the bottom of that drop down menu, for ‘Truck Lettering’ and ‘Vehicle Graphics.’

Well, an interesting sideline that he has gotten into over the years, is refurbishing older Massachusetts license plates.

Our own state of Massachusetts here, is actually the very first state in the United States, to issue motor vehicle license plates.  It used to be that the plates only needed to be displayed on the back of the vehicle. Over the years, the state has been proactive in enacting laws regarding the registration and inspection of motor vehicles.  The vehicle’s license plate(s) are assessed as part of the required vehicle inspections, and if the plates are old and/or damaged and are deemed unreadable by at least 60 feet, the vehicle owner is required to get new plates, before it receives a passed inspection sticker.

If a motor vehicle has been issued front and rear license plates, which is typical, the vehicle must display both license plates issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles on the front and rear of the vehicle.  Older plates that have the green lettering, which were the former standard and issued as a single plate, must only be displayed as that one plate on the back of the vehicles.  In 1988, Massachusetts began issuing red-lettered plates, which are issued as a set of two. If the newer red-letter plates are issued to the vehicle registrar, both must be displayed on both the front and back of the vehicle.  However, the single green-lettered plate is acceptable by law, for as long as it is readable.

It is for this reason, that Michael has refurbished an increasing amount of green-lettered plates. There are a host of reasons why some vehicle owners want to keep their older plate, for as long as possible. For some, it is just a somewhat sentimental reason. One 50-something year old man told Michael that he has had the same license plate since he was 18 years old, and he just doesn’t want to give it up.  Others own hot rods, antique vehicles, or other show cars, and there is no place for a front plate, nor do they want it to ‘blemish’ the look of their car.  Whatever the reason, if the plate is indeed salvageable, Michael is happy and capable of restoring them to their former beauty, if hired to do so.

Because it is a service he provides to aid in providing income for his family, he asked that I not show the whole step-by-step process.  Still, I thought it might be an interesting little post, to share with you all the before and after of just one of his green-lettered Massachusetts license plate restoration jobs.


The condition of this particular plate when he received it, was a hot mess. 

So the first thing he needs to do is clean it off and start from scratch.

Here it is, stripped down to the bare metal. It’s still a little beat up and whatnot, but a good new place to start.

All restored.  It is reflective as needed as well, just as they were originally. 

What do you think?

I am aware and amused, that he is often needing to clean things up and make them look like new, while I spend some of my days working to make things look old, beaten up and quite used.


Have you ever had license plates that meant something to you? Have you ever been sad for the to need to get new ones, or was it exciting? And what I’d really love to know, is do you like the look of your state’s plates?  I’m not going to name names (of states, that is), but I’ve seen some ugly ones!  I can’t much complain about ours.  You?
. . . . . .
UPDATE: Since the creation of this post, and as a direct result of it on the internet, we been contacted by numerous people seeking this service from Michael, and Michael in turn has refurbished many, many more plates since.  Every one has expressed great satisfaction with their finished plate, upon return.
If you are looking to have your license plate refurbished, please contact Michael at his e-mail address:

How Much Wood, Could a Woodpeck Peck? : (

This is the telling of a sad little tale. 

The refinishing of this birdhouse, has been one of my most favorite projects ever.  Between the excitement of using Annie Sloan paint for the first time, the color I fell so in love with, and the YouTube crash course video lesson I watched, on how to paint tiny roses in order to adorn my sweet new birdhouse with, it’s a project I truly enjoyed the process of. 

I have to say, it’s held up so well, out there in the weather of all kinds, too.  I did put it away for the winter, but otherwise, it has stood right over on the other side of my garden beds, under the apple tree.  I have  finished projects I’ve done all over my homestead, of course, and I love to see them around.  This birdhouse has truly been a piece that still plays a part in bringing me a bit of joy every day. 

So imagine my sheer panic this one very (very) early morning this summer:  The kids and I were still in bed, and I was still pretty much sleeping.  All of our windows were open a little, and I began to stir out of my sleep with the sound of some repetitive rhythm sound on hard wood outside.  I was confused by it, being somewhere between asleep and awake, and so I tried to bring myself out of the grog I was in, wondering if I was dreaming, or what.  But next thing I know, I hear little feet hit the floor hard, and come booming across the house floor, and my son yelling, “Mama, there’s a woodpecker pecking your birdhouse outside!”

That woke me up! The idea of the damage a woodpecker could do, had me wide-eyes, out of bed, out the front door, down the deck steps and out to the gardens, in a flash.  My abrupt arrival scared the woodpecker, and I watched him fly away. The peaceful silence after the commotion, caught my attention.  Even the birds stopped chirping. As I stood there in my summer nightie, in front of my house beside the street, amidst my gardens, our neighbor friend drove by in his truck to leave for work, and gave me a wave.  It occurred to me in that moment, that it was a good thing I wear pajamas to bed. 

I sauntered over to the birdhouse slowly,  not sure I really wanted to assess the damage done.

{SIGH}. It looked like the woodpecker figured a hole already there, was a good place to start. 
I put a trash bag over the house for the day, not sure what I was going to do about the matter.  But as the day went on, I thought, “What a cool photo that would have been, to get a shot of the woodpecker at the birdhouse.”  That’s what photographers do.  Think through life in images we’d love to get, as moments frozen forever.  So I took that bag off, and had my camera with my 70-200mm 2.8 lens on it, waiting by the open window near my work area in my house. I listened, and I checked repeatedly, for that woodpecker. All day long. But he never came back.  I thought that was the end of it.

 Until very (very) early the next morning, of course. While we were all still sleeping.  I jumped out of bed again, grabbed my waiting camera, and opened the window. But as soon as I did, he flew away.  My boy and I, having both gotten a good look at the bird, decided it was a Downy Woodpecker. They are the most common in this area, and the description and picture matched.  I was really hoping to catch him flying to the birdhouse, and get him when he just landed on it. Before he got to work again.  Preferably the day before, while I waiting and so ready-window open already and everything.  I should have known it would come back the next morning, at the same time.  So these after-damage photos I show you were taken after morning 2.  In the end, you can see the window opening was pecked on both sides, but it also did damage to the arched trim over the window, which is a much softer wood.

I put the bag back on it, and left it on for several days after that.  Then I took it off, thinking; even a woodpecked birdhouse looked better than a black trash bag on a post. If the woodpecker did come back yet again, I was going to have to consider taking the birdhouse in for good, or, I don’t know…..installing some kind of taser device on it. A security system of sorts. But the woodpecker has not been back since.  For which I’m thankful!

 When I refinished this birdhouse, and it came out so pretty, it really was my little hope, that some sweet little birds would move in. 
It just never occurred to me, a woodpecker would come along, and decide the window wasn’t big enough for him.  Silly me.

  So maybe none of us ever did find out the answer, to the question: How much wood, could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
But now we know how much wood could a woodpeck peck, if a woodpeck, could peck wood. 
Too much! : (

P.S.  In the last week or so, we’ve actually noticed 2 woodchucks waddling around our property, too.
So if we learn the answer to the first riddle, we’ll let you know. ; )

4th of July

HaPpY 4th of JULY, Everyone!

Since I wanted some photos, to go along with our wishes for you,  I thought today would be a good day to show you where I put my painted American Birdhouse.  It’s out on the potting bench near thegardens!  So now you know! I’ve got a whole red-white and blue theme going on out there, and it’ll be there throughout the month of July.  Then I’ll likely change it up, to some other summer theme. 

 The birdhouse has held up very well in weather, despite the sun andrain beating on it.  Again, I credit that to the wax finish. It seems to be a great protector for outdoor wood, in my experience.

Have a safe and memorable celebration of our country, with your families and friends!

We’ll see you again soon.



3 Little Garden Chairs / Refinishing

 There’s been these 3 little chairs, sitting in our basement for years now.  One of my husband Michael’s clients offered them to him, knowing we had triplets, and thinking maybe we could use them.  They are about toddler size. So he brought them home, and they’ve been in the basement ever since. I’ve never been a primary-colors kind of girl.  I thought maybe I would repaint them or do something with them at some point, for the kids, or maybe as available props for my photography studio.   But, I was just never inspired to ‘have-at’ them.

Until of course, I was.

I know these are ugly. Please don’t leave! I promise you, it gets much better! We were hauling out all kinds of things out of our basement that needed to GO, for our yard sale. Michael put these chairs out there, and when I saw them I said, “Hey! We’re not selling these! I could make them into cute little garden chairs!”  Well then….there was my inspiration.  The idea hit me for the first time, and flew out of my mouth. (As most thoughts do, if you must know. But I’m getting better.)  As so as it was, I was finally inspired to do something with these 3 little chairs.

The challenge was the primary colors of paint that was already on them.  Yes, I was going to paint them anyway, but I was NOT going to NOT distress them. And I sure as heck was NOT going to strip them.  They didn’t mean enough to me, to work that hard.  I mean, I love to paint, and to sand, and even to wax.  But stripping off paint? Not so much. So the primary colors underneath were staying, and I was starting to imagine, they were going to look pretty cool when I was done!

I’ll say right here, that I didn’t take photos of every step of the process.  But I think you all know what painting and sanding looks like. I DID take a whole bunch of photos of the chairs all done though! Lots. Those are the more fun photos you all like to see most, right. Because there was no special complicated process. I will tell you just how I did it right now, which was easy as 1-2-3, and then you can see so many photos I had so much fun taking as well, simply to show you.

Since I had 3 chairs, I thought it would be perfect to use the cans of the 3 colors of Annie Sloan chalk paints that I still had: Provence, Versailles, and Paris Grey. So, 1) I painted each one those colors.  It was actually very scattered painting sessions over a period of a few weeks, and my girls helped some too when they wanted to.  2) Then I distressed them to my liking. (That means, a lot of sanding. ; )

3) Lastly, I waxed them with my Annie Sloan waxes.  It was especially important for them to be waxed, because I knew they were going to be left outside in all kinds of weather. So they needed some kind of protection, to preserve all of my efforts, of making them into cute little garden chairs around our homestead.  I did wax each chair one at a time, from start to finish.  First I did the clear wax all over a chair, let it set up a bit, but before it was completely dry, I worked in some dark wax where I wanted it, to give them a more antiqued, aged look. It kind of has to be done that way, because the dark wax is potent stuff. It only takes a little bit, and if the clear wax is too dried, it is hard to rub off – or even rub around, the dark wax. So that is always the little bit tricky part, as well as wicked messy and sticky and stinky. But I’ll tell you what, this point in my project process really proved even to me, how much I love furniture refinishing! Because it was also sunny and hot this day.  But I was out on our deck working away in the sun, sweating my a*# off (but wouldn’t you know it, it’s still all there!), but singing and rocking out to the music, with that nasty sock on my busy hands, and having a ball!

Or I might of been high on wax fumes. Hard to say. But it was fun! That much I’m sure of.

Not much chatting left. Just a ton of photos, and some tidbits I think you might like to know.

Here you can see a couple of things, that really make these chairs beautiful to me. Knowing the primary colors underneath were going to show, I was careful in deciding which paint color was going on which chair. So here is the (Annie Sloan) Provence, on the dark blue.  You can also best see in this photo, the dark wax work, that helps make the chair look more aged.

 And a bunch of photos, where I have this one right now . . . . . .

Do you love it? I do!! I love the color, and I love where it is, with the daisies and the white picket fence there.  What I don’t love, is our yard. You may have noticed the lack of real grass. We pretty much just have crabgrass, and fine sand. I don’t much like the cement steps either. But, we have decided to hold off a bit and not invest in our grounds anymore, until we make some other pretty big decisions.  So, we make due, with making ugly . . . pretty, best we can for now.

Next up, is the one that was yellow chair, which I painted Versailles.  It’s out front with the garden beds, next to the covered bench and potting bench . . . . . .

Again, you can really see the paint underneath, where I excessively sanded, just the right amount. : )  You can also see the dark wax work, which only adds some character to it, to me. And do you see where the paint dripped? Some may think that is some imperfection. But I see it, and it makes me smile and feel happy. Because it reminds me of the memory, that my little girl was helping me paint this chair.

 And lastly, is the red chair, that I painted Paris Grey! I really wasn’t sure where I was going to put this one. So I just stuck it under the apple tree, and it seemed to look like it was at home there. Funny thing is . . . . . . it’s not at our home. (Yikes!)

The apple tree is not actually ours, nor on our property of course. Just over the line, but we pretend it’s ours. The owner is not usually around at all, and Michael does manage the property. (My excuse to take such liberties.) But she’s coming tomorrow for a week, so we’ll see if I get my hand slapped, or she kicks it back to our side, along with the birdhouse. And if I get arrested or anything, I’ll surely let you know. Because we’ll need to collect some bail!  (You all would help me get out. Right?!  Say yes.)

Care to sit for a spell, in the cool shade of the apple tree?

See? I really go to town, with my sand paper!  This one even has a little broken piece. Again = love.

 I always say . . . . . . it’s the little things, that make me so happy.

Thanks for taking a stroll around my gardens with me. (We literally, walked around the garden beds.) I always love when you visit us here, so please come again. We invite you to join us on Facebook too.