Captains Desk Restyled

Written by: UpCycle Girl Tara

I was scrolling through Facebook and saw this beauty for sale! Priced a little high, but I was able to haggle a bit. I have always wanted a desk like this. Unfortunately, I just do not have a place for it so the next best thing is getting one to revamp. The wood was in terrible shape. It must have been painted once in its life. Someone attempted to strip it but clearly lost interest and just tried to cover it up with some dark stain and finish. Also the center pull out writing surface has been replaced. I wanted to keep this project simple and classic, capable of being a statement piece for any room. I restored the inside by just evening out the color and clear coating. Then choose bone white chalk style paint from General Finishes; Distressed and added 2 clear coats if ML Campbell (sprayed on) with HVLP.

Note: We always use durable hard clear finishes as we do not believe in waxing furniture for protection. If you want to know more about why read this.

So what do you think? What would you have done if this was gong in your house?

Thanks for reading and happy junking!


Food Grade Finishes

Written by: UpCycle Girl Tara

I recently redid my built in cutting board. It was glass, but I wanted to bring in a wood element so I replaced the glass with hard maple.

I needed to treat the wood keeping in mind whatever finish I chose had to be safe for food consumption.

Becca and I do research upon research to insure anything that we do is the correct way to do it so that the information that we provide to you is accurate. So after quite a bit of researching we found a few different products that we felt were worth sharing with you.

First let’s talk about what not to use. While food-derived oils such as coconut or olive oil are effective, they can go rancid. However there are some oils that are refined you can use such as this coconut cutting board oil. Alternatively, exterior wood oils such as teak oil are NOT safe for food consumption. Also refrain from certain cleaning products on your cutting boards, like bleach and other kitchen cleaners – Not only are they unsafe products to risk coming into contact with your food, but they can ruin your wood. Wood in general – even hard maple – is like a sponge, so anything you put on it will be absorbed to some extent. Once you get a rancid or toxic oil in there, you are going to have a heck of a time removing it.

I personally ended up optingfor a Butcher Block Conditioner, which is food grade mineral oil and waxes. It was very easy to use with a wipe-off method of application. Whichever product you end up choosing, be sure to follow the exact instructions and adhere to warning on the label.

I am very happy with the results of the conditioner I chose – It perfectly brought out the natural features in the beautiful new maple in my countertop. Also, I feel the need to note that, in true UpCycle Girls fashion, the maple I used was composed of scraps that were cut planed and glued together.

There are a couple of other products that we love as well, that might work for you. Both are made by General Finishes. One is their Salad Bowl Finish. Since this is considered a topcoat, it is mainly used for visual purposes on surfaces that come in contact with food. Recognize that it should not be used for items that commonly come into contact with heavy heat or sharp knives (like wooden spoons and cutting boards). It does however, work great for your other wooden kitchen items, like – you guessed it – salad bowls. ūüôā The other product GF makes is Butcher Block Oil (mineral oil). This is a food-grade protectant that will be like most other food-derived oils in that you need to apply continually over time as needed, and it is perfectly safe to come in contact with your food.

Have you recently conditioned a cutting board? We would love to hear about your experience and the products you used!

Thanks for reading and happy junking!


Flipping Dated Furniture

“What does ‘upcycling’ mean?”

(If we had a dime for every time we got asked that question…)

To us, it means reusing a piece the same way it was intended, only better… new and improved, if you will. It’s somewhere between recycling and upgrading.

Here is a recent example…

We started out with a solid, but dated, set of nightstands with an entertainment center. The owner was redecorating, but wanted a very specific look. We were able to save him some money AND help him reach that goal… by upcycling!

Here are some “before” shots of the set.


I removed all of the hardware and doors. The customer wanted a more modern look, so we chose to keep the doors off. This achieved the desired aesthetic without sacrificing storage.


Next, I had to fill in the holes where the old hinges were anchored. I decided to try out a new wood filler that comes in a powder, and it quickly became a new favorite! I taped off the backs of the holes to prevent drips, mixed the filler to the desired consistency, filled and allowed to set properly, and sanded to a smooth finish.


Finally, the fun part! To achieve a more industrial, rustic look, we went with General Finishes Milk Paint in Lamp Black for the casings and shelves. In addition we used GF’s Water-Based Wood Stain in Antique Walnut over the [properly prepped] existing stain on the tops and inner shelves of the entertainment center. New handles and corner guards were applied after a few layers of GF High Performance topcoat.

Total transformation! #keeptheold



How to Remove Smells From Furniture

You just picked up your flea market find of the year! It’s beautiful and you have the perfect spot for it. You can’t wait for it to be that perfect conversation piece. Except every time you go near it, it stinks! You clean it front and back but it still just smells. Some furniture can get a musty smell or even cigarette smell to it. We have some tips on how to rid that beautiful piece of the stench.

I worked in disaster restoration for 15 years. We took furniture from homes covered in smoke and sut we cleaned them right up in almost every case we where able to remove the smoke smell from the furniture. We first started by cleaning with a denatured alcohol and water. Clean the front back underneath inside outside. It is always best to check the finish by first rubbing your cleaning solution on a small area before going forward. If you have access to a small ozone machine like this one I got from amazon. Put the ozone air purifier in a very small room with the furniture leave in there for a few days. Then I have used febreeze but I personally like the norwex odorizing spray. Spray the deodorizing spray on all the RAW wood sides. You don’t want to spray this on anything with a finish it could damage it.

So if all of that fails consider shellac now depending on where the smell is coming from you can seal the RAW areas with shellac. It comes in an aerosol and its easy to spray on. Pull out drawers spray the drawers inside and outside same with inside the cabinet and underneath. If the smell is coming from the top or outside you may want to consult a professional on restoring the finish. An antique piece you will want to make sure that the  finish that is put on it will be the same as the existing. Or contact your local upcycler and have them paint it to perfection!

Thanks again for reading this week! What do you have that you love that just stinks? Let us know if you try any of these tips and tricks.

Happy Junking!

Feature: Interview with Julie Amici

We have done Junking Play Lists before, but this one is not like the others. We are featuring Julie Amici, a small town artist with roots in our good ole dairyland. While we are revamping and upcycling we enjoy listing to some good tunes (usually not the new stuff). Listing to music like Julie’s is motivating for us; It gets us in the mood to make our work as beautiful as Julie’s voice.

Check out Tara’s new favorite song!

Image result for julie amici yellow roses album cover

Read on for our exclusive interview with Julie!

UG:  How did you get started in the music field?

JA:  I have always wanted to be a singer. I started following the path about 10 years ago in Portland Oregon. Started singing jazz and then met Dean Mueller and Don to Plews.  I got into Blues after meeting Dean Mueller. We have won several awards together and have been able to play many festivals. People love music, and we love to perform for people!

UG:  Where did you get the inspiration for Yellow Roses? (By the way, that is a beautiful song.)

JA:  Our album Yellow Roses is more on the American path.  When I went back to Wisconsin to visit where I grew up, where our house had burned down.  I thought about the yellow rosebush that my grandma planted there.  And the song just started to build like seed of inspiration, into a song.

UG:  Where can people find your music and see you play?

JA:  We play mostly around Portland and out on the Oregon Coast. We are starting to gain a national reputation as we know a lot of musicians in the industry. We have a Facebook page and website and videos on YouTube Рjust check out Julie Amici.

What kind of music do you like listening to while you are working away? Please share it with us! Thanks for reading and as always, happy junking!

Caring For Furniture

You just got the piece you have been searching every flea market for! Now you want to make sure you take care of it so it lasts. We have some cleaning polishing tips for you.

For just regular cleaning or dusting just a damp cloth should do just fine. If you need to do a little extra cleaning, some mild dish soap and water will work perfect. If you have something sticky or greasy you need to clean up try some naphtha.

You don’t need to polish on a regular bases. The wood is sealed with a finish. If you oil or wax you are just adding to the top of the finish. However if you still want to do a yearly more intense polishing or cleaning to bring back some shine I have just the right tips for you to find your polishing products. I traveled up to the local hardware store. Ace hardware is by far one of my favorites. There is always the older man working that is super helpful and reminds me of my dad. Anyway when you go there to find your cleaning product remember to look on the lable for the words NO SILICONES. It’s really important that is says that. If it doesn’t it means the product carries silicones. Silicones is a huge no no for wood. Products like Pledge carry silicones.

After this trip to Ace the only product I could find that states there are no silicones is Guardsmen. I use Guardsman dusting cloths which are amazing! They collect all the dust wash and reuse. They are similar to a tack cloth without the waxy residue.

If you see signs like veneer lifting or loose joints it might be time to consult with a professional. You can apply finishes over existing finishes to help secure and preserve the wood. Full re-guling might also be needed. Glue can break down and deteriorate over time cleaning out all the old glue and a proper regular job will fix it to last years.

What do you do to clean or polish your furniture? What have you found that doesn’t contain sillicones?

Thanks for reading and happy junking!


Drawer Upcycle

What does and old trunk, desk top, drawer, and table legs have in common?

drawer table complete


I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I was creating when I started the the pieces just fell into place. Nice solid drawer added some legs.

drawer table

Wasn’t quite sturdy enough so I had an old desk top which I had cut down for night stands. A little trimming and it was perfect for the center shelf. Painted bottom lamp black¬†inside top seagull grey¬†and ouside driftwood¬†(all General Finishes Products). Top coated with General Finishes High Performance, I don’t wax if you want to know why go here. Perfect to hold pillow, plants or any decor.

What creations have fallen together for you? We would love to hear about it.

Happy junking.

Roadside Pick Up To Faux Fireplace

We love it when a transformation is so remarkable as this one. We saved this piece from a possible landfill life!

Not quite sure what is was used for but it already had the charm of a faux fireplace it just needed some tweaking.

First a new top! We burned the new top to bring out the grain.

Then we custom mixed our favorite General Finishes colors to make a Tobacco like stain. We did the same to the new bottom we made.

Then it needed a hole for the fire. So we started cutting!

Next up, we framed the hole. Painted the brick seagull grey and top coated all of it with General Finishes High Performace stain. Hung the window in front and added birch wood was cut to size and placed inside.

What have you saved from a landfill and repurposed? We would love to see!

Thanks for reading and happy junking!

Hoosier Restoration

This past summer while cleaning out a rental unit I asked if anyone was keeping the Hoosier cabinet in the garage. “That old thing I’m just gonna burn it”. Was what my father in law told me. “Whoa whoa wait I’ll take it.” Is of course what I said. The hubs thought it needed too much work. It definitely did the frame was busted drawers sticking. Is was going to be some work. I was looking though my junker glasses. And still could not resist taking this home.

I got to work disassembled cleaned sanded and started painting. I am telling you I am just in love with bayberry green chalk paint from General Finishes! Wow the coverage is amazing and color is perfect.

While working on it I decided to take the top shelving unit doors off. My vision was to display all of my hard work in the summer…. my canned goods from gardening. Inside is very distressed white and outside green with lighter distressing. Of course top coated three coats with General finishes high performance.

Fresh eggs, produce, canned goods mushroom log (got on Etsy amazing!) dried herbs and the fun egg basket.

All you gardeners where do you display your canned goods and summer hard work? Have you ever taken something everyone else thought was completely garbage and turned it into a masterpiece?

Please share I would love to see it!

Thanks for reading and happy junking!

Why We Don’t Use Wax On Furniture!

Hello friends and followers. Here I am again with my insight on wax. I keep seeing a huge movement towards using wax as a top coat. My guess is because some paint manufactures say you don’t need to top coat their paint. So waxing has become the alternative to achieve a sheen, or desired look.

Wax was first used primarily as a finish but lets face it we have come a long way in the world of wood finishes. There are so many better options out there other than wax for a sealant. ¬†Today it’s commonly used over the top of a finish, or on a low traffick item such as this carved or gesso mirror. This mirror had been waxed originally I knew this from the build up of wax I had picked out of the crevices. After restoring the paint and top coating I did apply a new wax over the top to get the original desired look.


Today the movement of painting furniture is spectacular and the artistic pieces I see are just amazing! All of you up-cyclers and DIYers are playing a huge part in keeping all of that furniture from going into a landfill. However the idea is to have these flips and up-cycles last another few generations right? Well if you wax a high used dresser its going to take a whole lot more work to get it back to its original state. Because once wax is on something stripping will be required to remove it. We do not recommend painting over the top of a wax. Just think of a bees wax bar you can get at a local farmers market, if you put ¬†paint on it, whats going to happen? It will definitely not stick to that for long. There is then also the concern for dry-mils. This is a term used for wood finishers to determine how many layers of finish are on the top of the wood. Too many layers and you will expect to have a finish failure. They use a gauge after spraying to see what their wet mils are and then do a little math to determine what the dry mils are at. Depending on the solids of the paint / finish the dry mils can vary. It is recommended not to exceed 4-5. So if you paint over an existing finish with “x” amount of dry mils, add so many more mils to that and then in a few years paint it again. You will be sure to be exceeding your mils and can be expecting the finish / paint to be failing and it will not last for generations to come.


(Wet mils gauge from Mohawk)

Wax can also be somewhat sticky, and finger prints can stand out. Dirt can easily adhere to it making it harder to clean. Also, wax is suggested to be reapplied about every year so it is not a low-maintenance option. Wax is used typically more for looks rather than as a durable protectant over your painted or stained woodwork.

Waterbase finishes are definitely what we recommend for a durable top coat. They have low VOCS and can be easily applied using a brush. Most waterborne finishes come in many different sheens. General finishes has a flat out flat that is an excellent seal coat as well can create a similar low sheen look as a wax. Check out General Finishes  and see where you can find a vendor near you. We also spray with ML Campbell Aguaiente PLUS clear. Some of my favorite perks of the ML Campbell is its sprays out similar to a lacquer dries fairly quick and has a completely flawless sheen when completed.

We understand the appeal of the look a product finished with wax has, but personally aren’t fans of the high-maintence, low durability qualities we have mentioned. If you chose to continue to use wax as a finish, please keep these things in mind in order to properly finish and maintain your hard work. Both General Finishes and ML Campbell are great options for achieving the same look without sacrificing quality.

We hope this has been educational for you! Happy Junking!