Please use the china!

How many of you have a box of dishes stored away waiting for something? Maybe they were handed down from grandma, mom, mother in law or a great aunt. Maybe you just saw them at a shop and had to have them for yourself? I have no less than six full sets of china in my house (don’t judge). I also collect all of the discarded china at thrift stores and estate sales. Why? because is gorgeous, it’s timeless, it’s amazing quality and most importantly it’s piece of history.

The most common reason I hear from your shop customers as to why they are in boxes and not being used? They are so hard to care for. I say use the china! wash it in your dishwasher on the fine china setting and love dangerously! Enjoy these heirloom pieces everyday and get them out of boxes and into your cupboards and hutches. It’s a great way to do a little something special for yourself and make eating a meal more fun and fancy. I have four kids and we use the china everyday. Does it break? sure, sometimes but wouldn’t you rather use it enjoy it instead of it collecting dust in a box?

If you struggle decorating with your vintage china, join us over on Facebook each week for sales and videos that provide inspiration on what you can do to make these treasures part of your everyday life. Find us here:


We don’t have an IKEA store near us (the closest one is over two hours in any direction) so whenever I travel I seek one out. There are certain items that I always purchase for the shop for staging and displays and classes and then I always find some additional fun items. Many of these you can now purchase online direct from IKEA so I have provided links for you to check them out. Where possible I have also provided Amazon links for those of you that would prefer to shop there. I encourage you to check out an IKEA on your travels and find some hidden gems, in the meantime, here are my recent favorites!

By far my most favorite item are these sweet little artificial potted plants and faux boxwood balls. They come in several varieties and each one looks so good in a cute container mixed in your home decor. Whichever one you pick, baby tears, thyme, oregano, bamboo or rosemary, they are all super cute! (Amazon link)

Next up on the favorites list are these cotton dishtowels. I grabbed the red and white variety and the green and white bundle thinking they would be perfect for our winter salvage box which is all centered around a vintage mixing bowl. I washed mine and they soften up and look amazing! (Amazon link)

These flannel blankets were a nice surprise too! Always look for special ale items, they have them in each department. I also washed up these babies and they are going to be perfect for tablecloths and tablescapes in the warehouse.

This huge pile of doormats are all for our Fall Makers Day project. They take a stencil so well and look so cute when they’r finished. Either stenciled or naked they are a steal at around $5.00.

Some practical items on the list include packages of wood hangers for our vintage flannels and men’s dress shirts in our vintage fashion shop in the warehouse. I also use these and home and they hold up so well.

The plastic boot tray is a no brainer for a mudroom with six people and wet winter boots.

Last up is the wood round lazy susan. I’m thinking this will be used for a winter workshop….maybe add a stencil or a paint technique? Such a great project piece for a class! (Amazon link)

Let me know what treasures you all have found at IKEA and how you use them in your home, I would love to see! Do you like to see the details of our hauls??? If you do comment below so we know you want us to keep writing!

Upcycling Found Furniture

Did you ever come across a piece of upholstered found furniture and wonder how much fabric you need to make it look beautiful again?  Check out this handy vintage yardage calculator:

Yardage Calculator

It’s such a cute graphic you can also use it for artwork in your sewing room! Double duty:)

General Finish Topcoat on Bright White

This is from General Finishes staff regarding the use of their topcoats over bright white paint.


Many you may have noticed that the labels on our bright white paints, Snow White Milk Paint and Chalk White Chalk Style Paint now carry a warning label regarding the yellowing of topcoats. All bright white paint will yellow slightly with time, with or without topcoat. Water-based topcoat is reactive and more likely to draw out substances in the wood such as tannins or unknown substances in existing finishes causing the topcoat to yellow. This is an industry-wide issue.

General Finishes background was originally on the professional side, and the incidences of yellowing topcoat over white paint were almost nil, and when our sprayable professional finish, Enduro White Poly, is used, there have been no incidences. But as the use of our paints has increased in the up-cycling and furniture refresh markets, we have heard more reports of our topcoat yellowing. Our response was to teach about prepping, testing you finish schedule and finally creating Stain Blocker, our stain blocking primer, but this is not enough. Just as we advocate prepping all finishes, we are now advocating NOT using a clear water base topcoat over BRIGHT WHITE paint.

General Finishes is in the process of developing a brushable version of our professional Enduro White Poly (available only in gallons), but that will take some time and rigorous testing before we can release the product. Here is what you should know to protect yourself and also some immediate suggestions to decrease chances of yellowing.

There is no way to reliably predict yellowing ahead of time. Sometimes yellowing occurs, sometimes it does not. Every existing finish is different and we rarely know the finishing provenance on an existing piece. Every tree is different and every piece of wood is unique. Wood can bleed tannins immediately after the topcoat dries or months later with a change in temperature that comes with a change in seasons. Oak, pine, mahogany, and Douglass Fur are particularly prone to bleed-through.

As is true of most “water-white” topcoats, our High Performance Water-Based topcoat is a clear drying finish over a non-reactive substrate such as plastic. When paint is used over something as unpredictable as wood, all bets are off. Yellowing can be caused by the top coat activating the tannins in raw wood or aniline dyes, stains or contaminants in a pre-existing finish. This is most evident when using BRIGHT WHITE paint and most prevalent in the sculpted details of furniture, where the topcoat can collect, intensifying the color change to an unacceptable level.

To add to this issue, all bright white paint will yellow slightly with time, with or without topcoat. You have probably tried to touch up white woodwork in your home after several and noticed that the new paint is brighter.

• Whites have a lower “hide” quality and are more transparent than most other colors. Most bright whites require additional coats to achieve the desired color and minimize color variation. This can increase cost of paint finishing. Always include a clause in your contracts addressing the need for additional coats to achieve coverage.
• Bright white paints can yellow over time with or without topcoat.
• The underlying finish or wood species can affect the final color of light paint.
• Details and inside corners are difficult to cover with any paint color, but this property tends to be more noticeable with whites. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon in paint application and does not necessarily constitute a defect in the paint finish or your technique.


1. Use a disclaimer in your contracts or recommend a softer white such as Antique White or Linen. Upcharge for the extra coats needed and ever guarantee a white finish over a piece that you cannot trace the provenance on. Here is a suggestion: Terms of Agreement and Warranties: ________ (Initials) I have been informed that more coats are required when painting with bright whites, reds, greens or yellow. I understand that white paint can yellow over time and that water based topcoats can occasionally react with the substrate or existing finish under white paints causing yellowing, even is a stain blocking primer is used.

2. If it is a low use project, use a premium white paint that is self-sealing and does not require a topcoat. A clear top coat is not required on our Milk Paint for increased durability, as it is a self-sealing, exterior rated coating with very high durability and performance properties. However, top coats provide a smoother surface that is easier to clean and boost durability for high use projects such as table tops and kitchen cabinets.

3. Get a spray gun and use a professional “white coat” such as our Enduro White Poly. It is a white paint with “increased topcoat properties”, is a stand-alone finish when 3 coats are applied and does not require sealing with a topcoat.

4. If you are still brushing, try adding 10-15% of the paint you are using to the first or second application of topcoat. The last layer of topcoat should not have paint in it, to maintain durability. We have had good reports of this technique from customers but have not tested in the lab over a long period of time.

5. Always test your project’s entire finishing schedule (from cleaning to topcoat) on an inside door or a more hidden area of the piece. This does not help if the yellowing occurs later but you will at least know if there is an immediate problem.

6. Always apply a stain blocking primer under white or light-colored paint such GF Stain Blocker or a shellac based primer. Always let any primer dry overnight. Some of the primers we have seen suggest a 3 hour dry time and that is not enough.

7. If you are working on period pieces such as a 1940’s serpentine mahogany desk which were often finished in stain containing aniline dyes that cast a pinkish bleed through under light paint, stay away from light colors. Not every piece of furniture is suitable for up-cycling with a light paint color. Pine, Mahogany, and furniture of the 1940’s and 50’s are a red flag.

8. Last, not all manufacturer’s topcoats are compatible with other finishes and may react with a color change. Always follow best practices by not rushing, and testing to your satisfaction first.

Hope this helps and wish us luck on our next paint endeavor- Christine Adams