Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Snow Day Project

Last week we were blessed with 12+ inches of snow in good ol' Junction City, KS. I'm from Georgia and my husband is from Florida, so this gave us 12+ reasons to stay cuddled up in our PJs all day watching movies and being lazy. It was nice - the first day. Work was cancelled two days giving us a four day weekend and by day two we were bursting at the seems to get out of the house. Some of our FB followers might remember this hutch we bought a few weeks ago.

We were purchasing a vanity set from a women off of Craigslist. You might remember this revamp we did -

After loading up the vanity, we asked if she was getting rid of anything else before their cross country move to the west coast. She had lots of goodies - including this beautiful, antique, solid wood beauty! As beautiful as the curved glass on the top was and as much as I was drooling over the amount of storage this piece would give me, I was somewhat hesitant due to the damage to the top of the base. There were multiple very deep scratches from the previous owners lazily sliding and moving the top, water rings and water damage. Of course this is all on the four inches you can actually see when the two pieces are set up! But, I knew I had to have it and was able to negotiate an amazing price for it.
Well its been collecting dust and taking up space in our garage for almost a month now. So with 12 inches of snow outside, we bit the bullet and started a revamp in the middle of our kitchen! I mean, why not?
First things first, we removed all the hardware, drawers and doors from both pieces and gave it a serious scrub down. Once squeaky clean and dry, we taped off the glass on the doors, removed the backing and got to priming!

We are pretty loyal to Bulls Eye's Water Based Primer. Its affordable and does a great job at removing odors, which is key for removing that "old lady smell" as I call it from older furniture. I am an avid supporter of doing two coats of primer, especially when painting a dark peice a light color. It saves a lot of time! As you can tell we don't have any fancy tools - at least not for this project. I think a paint sprayer in my kitchen would have been a bad idea!

After the primer had dried, we got to painting. We were able to remove the panel backing of the hutch so we could easily repaint this guy a second color - which of course we choose turquoise!

We decided to keep the outside of the hutch a neutral color. We are fortunate enough (not!) to live in an apartment complex that paints every wall in every apartment a pee yellow color. I have a few words for whoever made that decision! I didn't want anything too bold or too contrasting, so we stuck with a Cottonwood off-white.
Notice the other in-progress projects in the background. One day I will have a kitchen to actually use for cooking, not storing table bases!  

We decided to paint the inside of the cabinet turquoise as well. I thought the hidden pop or color would be cute! So once our paint was dry on the outisde, we taped off the lip and painted the inside.

Once everything was good and dry, we reattached the doors and drawers. The old hardware on this hutch was huge - I mean, seriously huge! So we had to fill in the old drawer holes with wood putty so we could drill new ones for our updated hardware. Replacing hardware is a simple way to transform your furniture, even without repainting the piece.

Once everything was good and dry, we moved the pieces back to our cramped garage for some poly! We did two thick coats of Minwax's Polyurethane. Even though the can says "Fast Drying" it took a day and a half for it to completely dry. We can thank mother nature for that! I was so excited to put the hutch back into the house that waiting definitly tested my patience.

Lessons learned: I will never revamp a piece in my kitchen again!
It was just as much work cleaning up after the revamp. But, I am so happy with the final product. The additional storage space is going to go to good use! We already have some wine glass holders on order to install under some of the shelves and Nick is going to come up with some kind of wine rack for the shelf in the bottom cabinet. For now, we are going to relax as we get even more snow tonight and enjoy our new hutch!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Update: Ugly Furniture Contest Winner

Just last month we hosted our first Ugly Furniture Contest in honor of our 500+ likes on our Facebook page! We had 9 entries, a ridiculous amount of votes and one very deserving winner. Here is our winner's table.

This is a 100+ year old dining room table. There is a LOT of family history behind this piece. Amber's great grandparents were the original owner - her grandfather has told her stories of eating breakfast at the table every morning as a child. Years later it was passed down to one of her aunts and eventually to her. Unfortunatly there had been some water damage to it and obviously there was a lot of wear and tear over 100 years and she was too afraid to even use it. So, she was delighted to win our contest for a free makeover for her family's table.

Enter Against the Grain Furniture.  We removed the peeling veneer from the table legs, repaired the table base with the water damage, reattached the piece bolting the base to the table top, tightened everything (including the super cool, antique casters on the bottom of the bases) and then started sanding. The entire piece was wrapped in a wood veneer. Since it was so old and super thin, we took our time. After a day or two of sanding, we had all the old varnish and finish removed.

Table base before we started sanding.
Sanding Round 1
Sanding Round 2
Sanded, a coat of wood conditioner and stain.
Sunbathing after a coat of stain!
After a quick coat of wood conditioner, we applied a coat of Minwax's Dark Walnut stain. It really brought out the details in the wood! Once everything was dry, we applied several coats of poly to the table top.

Table Top Before
And After!

I am super excited about how beautiful this piece turned out. Although not all older or damaged pieces are worth the time and effort to save it, ones with family history and memories can and should be brought back to life! I'm pleased to report that this old guy, with his new face lift is happily back home!

As long as everything goes as plans, we will be having another Ugly Furniture Contest later this year, so keep your eyes out! If you have a piece of furniture you'd like revamped - please email us at with a picture of the piece and what your vision for it is. Look forward to hearing from you!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

NEW Custom Built TV Stands

Just a reminder that we can custom build any of our ATG Original items to fit your space. A client recently came to us with a need for a TV console table. She had a very large flat screen (58" -- yes please!) and wanted a low table for it with storage space. She had seen this one that we did last fall.

This guy was a whopper - built for an even bigger tv in a huge basement. So, she took some measurements of her space and we put our heads together! And the outcome was nothing short of fantastic.

Here it is in it's new home:
If you see a piece we have custom made for someone else but it doesn't fit your needs, we can work with you to make it work! So, don't hesitate to email us with ideas or pictures of other pieces you've seen.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Treasure Hunting

One of the questions I get asked the most is - "Where do you find all this furniture?" I know we are in the middle of a full blown DIY era, so I thought I'd give you guys some advice and tips on where to look for furniture. It may seem like large (and over priced) furniture companies or Walmart are you only options - but there are many more options out there.  Especially if you are willing to roll your sleeves up and get a little messy revampping it or if you are lucky to live close enough to have us revamp it for you! ;-)
-- Online - Both Craigslist and Bookoo are great for furniture deals, especially living in a military town where people are moving a lot. The Bookoo for Fort Riley, KS is one of the top 15 largest in the world -- that's a lot of items up for grabs! On both sites you can narrow down your search by type of furniture, price or to include only postings with pictures. This helps a lot, especially if you are only looking for a coffee table - you can quickly eliminate everything else from your search.

Here are a few diamonds in the rough that I saw listed on the Manhattan, KS Craigslist earlier today:

-- Yard sales - Spring is just around the corner and that means the start of yard sale season! I personally cannot wait. Weekend sales are a dime a dozen especially when the weather is nice. This is the best time to bargain, haggle and deal!! Furniture is a hot ticketed item at a yard sale, so be prepared to show up early. Craigslist, BooKoo. the local newspaper (The Daily Union in my case) and all post upcoming yard sales.

-- Trash Day - I'm not ashamed to admit I have taken items out of other people's trash. Someone super smart- Ashley Tramontin once said "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Amen!! People who are in a rush to move out, clean up, or have yard sale leftovers are known to leave anything from furniture, to lamps, to cute welcome mats by the curb. I am a firm believer that you should always ASK before taking - never assume something is up for grabs just because its by the street. Knock on the door or even ask a neighbor. This is a pet peeve of mine since we had some very expensive lighting that we use when working in the driveway stolen a few months ago. You can also keep an eye of the occasional curb alert in the "free" section on both Craigslist and BooKoo. Just be prepared to act fast!

  -- Local Thrift/Consignment/Antique Stores -  We are located in Junction City, Kansas. Its definitly not the mecca for thrift stores, but between Junction City and Manhattan (a 20 minute drive away) there are a good number of thrift stores and second hand stores. These are a great places to look for low-price, simple fixer uppers. Each store will differ in prices, deals, & items but I have found some amazing deals on everything from picture frames, bed frames, side tables, lamp bases and mason jars! You can also check out antique stores, consigment shops and flea markets. Its all hit or miss, but don't let one strike-out differ you from going back. I've learned that furniture doesn't sit long and you definitly can't go in looking for a particular item. You'll also learn the price points for different stores - i.e. an antique stores will be priced higher than a thrift store. But, be sure to barter and bargain down the price. If its not in the best of condition, or it will take a lot of work to redoing it - offer less. The worst that will happen is they will say no.

-- Auctions - I'm going to post a more detailed post on auctions, but if you have the time (these things can go on, and on, and on...) and the willingness to learn, you can get some great pieces. Unforunatly, these aren't (at least not in our area) as frequent as yard sales, but they normally include quality, sometime name brand antiques and furniture pieces. Stay tuned for some more info in the coming weeks on our experience at a Kansas auction.

And last and definitly not least, there is us! You can skip all of the driving, digging, bargaining and work redoing furniture and buy one of our pieces!! We take all the work out of the equation and you still end up with beautiful, solid wood, furniture to last a lifetime. And don't forget if you come across something that you can't pass up but don't have the time to revamp it, we can help with that too. Just email us at with a picture of the piece and your vision for it and we can get you quote. Trust me, no job is too big!


To sum it all up - be patient, persistent and keep your eyes open when treasure hunting. You never know what you might find! Where have you guys had the most success? I'd love to hear where you've scored the best furniture finds! Feel free to comment below...