I think it probably always happens this way. I got my new bookcases installed in my studio, and for the rest of the week I was too busy to actually spend any time in there. Does that sort of thing happen to you, too?

I actually rarely think of my husband as a carpenter, even though that is what he does for a living. Early in our marriage he trained as a heavy duty agricultural mechanic, and while he has built half of our home, renovated the other half, built a shop and myriad pieces of furniture, his creativity is in steel. (You’ve seen his hot rod.) I know he loves working out his creativity with a welder and a sheet of metal, so for him to build these beautiful bookcases for me is not something I take for granted.

bookcases  400w

I can’t tell you how we argued about how they should look – we both agreed where they should go, and how they would fit, but it’s a little scary to suggest what they should look like, when I wasn’t completely sure what I needed. Doors? Drawers? Keep it simple without making it ugly. How deep should the shelves be? In the end I deferred to my carpenter’s best judgment. He usually is pretty good at knowing what I need – one of the things that’s made our 17 years of marriage so successful.

bookcase detail

Once the building part was done, finishing was my job. I did a good deal of searching to find finishes I liked on Pinterest, but then the trick was finding the supplies I needed without having to order online. When Wade wants a project done, he usually means yesterday. I was so glad that our hardware store carried a few shades of Rust-O-Leum Chalked Ultra Matte paint, and in the exact colour I was hoping for, a soft aqua called Serenity Blue. I painted it on thickly as instructed by my carpenter, and then regretted that choice as I used a wet rag to rub most of it off to show the primer after it had dried. Wiping with a wet cloth worked much better than sanding this very matte paint.

bookcase detail2

Following the paint wiping, once I had the finish with the rubbed white/blue that I was hoping for, I used a wax to seal and add a bit of a sheen to the finish. I chose a “dirty wax” from the Edmonton, Canada-based company Reloved (I buy mine locally here) to add a bit of antiquey grime to the surface. This wax has a bit of stain or something in it that clings to the corners and molding edges to really give the patina I was hoping for, without making it too dark or battered looking.

I can tell you that this paint wiping, wax buffing stage made my arms very tired! In the mornings I was at our church running a kids’ soccer camp program, and afternoons I was running home to rub my bookcases (no genies ever did appear!). During soccer camp I run the music part of the morning, singing, dancing and expressively waving my arms to the actions of the songs; maybe this helped work out the kinks because I was expecting to be a lot sorer than I was after buffing all afternoon!

 bookcase studio full

As you can see by the photos, I haven’t wasted any time in filling my shelves, although the table still holds items I have yet to put away. I wanted an eclectic antique look, with crates and wire baskets and vintage containers holding my brushes, and I “shopped my home” for many of the pieces on the shelves; my vintage children’s suitcases, Pepsi crates, mail boxes and ice cream cups that hold my paint tubes. I have learned that when I’m “organizing” and moving a lot of items into better places, it’s a good idea to label, because I frequently organize my stuff so well I can’t remember where it is! The best way is to go with your first instincts of where to put something, and if you have any doubt you’ll remember where you put it, well, that’s what a labelmaker is for!

Not only was I able to fill my new bookcases with my painting supplies, books & magazines, but I was able to clean up the other half of the studio, the “sitting room/guest room” side. The bed and settee had been completely covered with boxes of paper crafting materials from all of my non-painting art pursuits, and much of this was able to go into a vintage cabinet given to me by my grandma, and the barrister’s bookcase (photo above, end of the room), a gift from my in-laws.

bookcase detail3

My studio space makes me so happy! I am blessed beyond what I can express to have such a “me” space to come to, a place that holds some of my favourite things, my place to paint, teach, and just be at home and happy.

I am hosting an Open Studio on Friday, October 2nd, with special guests; local potter Marilyn Farrow and jewellery artist Bev Cosens. Watch for more details coming soon!