Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What's your passion?

What do you love to do?

What makes you completely lose track of all time?

Drawing, singing, taking photos, crafting, gardening, biking, volunteering...whatever it might be, that my friend is your passion, your calling, and your gift. We all have that one unique thing that makes us happy and content. Some people are fortunate enough to find that passion early in their life, others might not find it until much later. But regardless, we all have it in us, the key is finding it!

So what's my passion?

Well if you've followed this blog for awhile you know that my passion is making custom decor out of reclaimed, repurposed and upcycled materials. It took me until a few years ago to actually recognize my passion and acknowledge it fully. I always wanted to make it more complicated...but it was really quite easy, and it was right in front of me for years, I just didn't see it.


As luck would have it, just a few short weeks ago, I was given an opportunity to share my passion with my favorite local tv station. I was honored to have Bryan Piatt from Kare11 out to the shop to interview me for a segment he was putting together called Pick Your Passion. PYP is a series that features local Minnesotans and highlights their unique talents and passions.

I was a nervous wreck for the 24 hours leading up to Bryan coming out. You see, I'd prefer to be behind the camera, not in front of it! But the chance to share my story was such a fantastic opportunity that I knew I just had to do it. So I took a big breath...and told myself that I needed to push myself outside my comfort area and give it my best shot.

Here is a link to the video if you want to see the spot. 

                                                                                            photo credit Kare11

 I feel like I've grown tremendously because of this experience. It was uncomfortable, but Bryan was so friendly and helped calm my jitters which made me sorta forget there was even a camera running. I'm grateful for this chance to push myself and tell a little bit about what makes me tick and my passion.

What I hope for you...is that you continue to pursue your passion, work hard at your unique talent and share your gift with the world.

Thanks for coming by the UP blog today.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Signs + Side Tables

I was doing some spring cleaning in our storage building last week and found that I have a cache of smaller tables that were screaming to get pulled out and worked on. {Well, it might have actually been Paul requesting I make some room in the building...but nonetheless} I think I pulled out 6 tables total: a pair of end tables, two coffee tables and two cute side tables.

The first pair to get a makeover were these lovelies.

Such a great pair of end tables, there were some minor veneer issues that I had to address but other then that, these were really in great condition.

I did a custom blue color mix of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I'm calling it midnight blue. It's rich and sophisticated and looks appropriate with the original hardware.

The drawers needed a good cleaning but are in fantastic shape and glide in and out with ease.

A couple new signs were created this week as well. 

The first is this large tree. There is something about tree imagery that I just love. And this piece is no different. At about 28" wide it will be a great focal point over a fireplace, on a gallery wall, in a family room or just about anywhere in a home for that matter.

And the second is a nautical inspired little anchor. We live in Minnesota after all and just about everyone lives on a lake, has a cabin or a is lucky enough to have boat. So who doesn't need an industrial inspired anchor to adorn their walls!

 I've got several other table and sign projects in the works, so this will be a busy week ahead too.

Our first Spring sale is scheduled for Thursday May, 12th at the Wilds Golf Course in Prior Lake. Mark your calendar and let your friends know. It will be a fun night out! More details to come as well as some sneak peaks at what we will be bringing to the show.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thrift Store Lamp Makeover

If you've shopped for new lamps lately, you know exactly how limited the selection is and how expensive new can be! Almost everywhere you look however, {garage sales, auctions, thrift stores, even your basement} there are old, dated lamps in need of a refresh. You don't need to go out and spend a bunch of money on new lamps, just take a few hours and refresh those dated ones and do so for much less money too!

I bought this pair of metal lamps last summer. They were in working condition, just very worn and dingy looking. You can see the dirty, brassy, yucky finish for yourself...

For a quick, modern refresh, I broke out the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® {ASCP}. Graphite was the color of choice for this project. The beauty of chalk paint, is that there is no prep needed. Just clean the dust from the surface and get on with the painting.

After two light coats of paint, I gently sanded the edges to expose a bit of the original finish.

I then applied ASCP dark wax to both lamp bases.

A new couple new harps and lamp shades and we are back in business.
{harps are the wire lamp part that typically mounts below the lamp socket and supports your lamp shade}

This is a great way to give new life to old lamps. You can pick any number of Chalk Paint colors; a neutral, something fresh or a bold pop of color. Really the options are endless.

 Oh and to brighten the mood {and in honor of the first week of spring} I bought myself some flowers. Love the use of succulents in these gorgeous bouquets, so fresh and spring-ish!

Hope you enjoyed this DIY project.

Enjoy your week! 

Linking up:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Clocks, Chest of Drawers and a Classic Desk Set

Man these first couple days after Daylight Savings each spring are so darn hard to adjust to. I'm sure most of it is a mental game I play with myself, but that lost hour throws me way off. It usually takes a good week to get myself adjusted to the change. The silver lining...we've made it through another winter and the days are getting longer! Whew!

Even with one less hour of production time in the studio last weekend, we still managed to get some new clocks, a beautiful chest of drawers and a classy desk/chair set completed. With the nice temps outside, it was really great having the doors open and being able to enjoy the fresh air.

First I'll share one of the new 37" clocks. No stain! Seriously, just clear coat. The color of that wood is outrageous! I love the variations of red, brown and tan. {I've included a progress picture showing the wood pre-sealer so you can appreciate how much the wood came to life with just that satin top coat.}

And then there was this lovely lady, a 5 drawer beauty that is well constructed and functions like new. She was simply in need of a new look to bring her more up to date. The entire piece is finished in Old White and sealed with clear wax. I decided to keep the original hardware but refresh it with some gold gilding. This piece is ready for years of use again!

And last, but certainly not least, this Drexel desk set. Finished in Graphite and dark wax. I refinished the top and left the wood grain shine through. The chair also got an update with new upholstery...a beautiful textured fabric that is far more appropriate for the classy new look.

So there you have it, all the projects that were wrapped up last weekend. {despite that lost hour}

Until next time!

Linking Up:
What Meegan Makes
Curly Crafty Mom

Sunday, March 6, 2016

How it all began.

I don't talk much about who I am and how Urban Patina came to be so I thought I would share a little of my story so that you have a better understanding as to how the heck it all began! {Bear with me as I try to articulate the things that have led us to this point. This post is the longest entry I've ever composed so I might ramble a bit!}


I’m Crystal and I'm the designer and maker behind Urban Patina. I live in a southern suburb of Minneapolis with my husband, Paul and our Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Greta. Our home is in the Minnesota River Valley surrounded by farm fields and woods. Built in 1955, our little rambler was constructed with lumber from trees in the area, this is a feature that I've always been proudest of...but it's been insanely frustrating too...imagine if you can that none of the walls or floors in your house are level or straight...that's our house!

I've always been a lover of nature and the outdoors; we are fortunate to have a great mix of both right out our back door. When I’m in need of a break, I head out with Paul and Greta for a hike or snowshoe excursion on the river bluff. It's amazing what a good burst of fresh air can do when I’ve hit a creative roadblock or am stressed. Watching the critters, listening to the birds sing and taking in the beautiful landscape; these are the things that help me clear my head and get refocused.

Growing up I was always encouraged to try anything and empowered to succeed. My mom was always crafting, cooking, baking and decorating. She made our house a home with her creative talents and heartfelt touches. While I can’t remember actually willingly helping with any of her projects, I always had an appreciation for her knack of creating cute and unique decor from what looked like old useless junk.

Once I graduated high school, my search for the right profession ensued. The problem being that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. What I did know (and was told) was that I needed some sort of education...anything! So I started towards a degree as an architect, then a business major, and then I finally honed in on a career as a graphic designer. I was fortunate enough to land a job right out of school as a production artist. I was thrilled with the job as it was a great mix of computer graphics and hands on production of signs and banners. But as my career developed, less time was spent actually designing. You see, at my core, I need to create. So even though my career was advancing, I was still craving the opportunity to create more tangible things, things that rang true to me. I wanted to make things with my hands, not just a steady diet of computer generated graphics. To fulfill this desire, my mom and I started making crafts and selling at local craft sales, farmers markets and then even dabbled for a stint in a local antique store where we rented a space and sold our shabby chic furniture, antiques and handmade crafts. We enjoyed many outings scouring antique shops, auctions and flea markets in search of new treasures to transform, refresh and restyle for our sales.

Soon however, I found myself spread too thin, and I ran out of time to spend after hours on on my creative passion. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to keep creating cute projects {inspired by Martha Stewart, Country Living and BH&G}, but I was newly married, advancing in my career, and buying our first home. After a short hiatus I would once again be drawn back to hand work. This time though, I would start transforming bigger pieces. It all started with an old pine TV cabinet that I picked up at a second hand store. I had been looking for something to transform into some much needed storage for our entry and this piece was solid wood and well constructed. The problem was that it was just too rustic looking in it’s honey stain and country-esque knotty pine finish. I brought it home, cleaned it up, fixed some damages and painted it black. I added a clothing bar to the inside and now use it in our mud room for extra storage. What I didn’t realize was that this was the piece that would spring board everything. This was the beginning of Urban Patina. 

Furniture, lumber and any other materials that I think I can transform are on my radar these days. If it's solid wood, has good bones or is just plain cool looking, I'm all over it. The challenge of the hunt, the thrill of the score and the panic of how to transform the piece in a respectful manner are all driving forces behind what I do. It’s so rewarding to know that I've given a piece a chance to be loved once again and ultimately saved from the dump...this is how I define success.

I had been working for three years out of what was Paul's heated garage. He was a trooper and let me slowly take over the entire space. It wasn't an ideal situation by any means but I didn't have any other option and I wanted to make cool stuff. In the spring of 2015, with the support and encouragement from my parents, Paul and I built a studio on our property. The studio is definitely my happy place…both Paul and I can get lost in the shop for hours on end. The additional space has given us the chance to take on bigger projects and create more than was ever possible in our cramped garage. {and we can now park our cars in the garage again, seriously a huge win!}

The business has evolved since that pine cabinet in 2012. I still love to makeover furniture and create smaller home decor items, but I also love creating custom industrial inspired furniture, wall decor, accessories and more. I'm so very fortunate that Paul also has a passion for making cool stuff from reclaimed materials. I know that it isn't all that often that a husband and wife can work together, but we really like being together and collaborating on these projects. Paul's welding and fabricating skills coupled with my design and creative skills empower us to handcraft some pretty fun, one-of-a-kind products. Designing custom pieces can be challenging. You hope that what you create is something that someone will want or need for their home. We take a chance and hope that it's well received.

We often get asked if we have a store or how we go about selling our products. Well, we don't have a storefront, but Paul and I have grown this little business steadily by doing sales out of our home and vending at local pop up shows and boutiques.

Being a maker takes long hours, dedication and support from those closest to us. Some ideas work out perfectly and some just bomb. That's simply the reality. While it can be frustrating to work endlessly on an idea only to have it fail is part of the love for this type of business. I learn far more from my failures then my successes. I’ve learned that failing is a necessity in growing. My husband, parents and friends inspire and encourage me to push myself beyond what is comfortable and familiar. I look to Pinterest, magazines and other designers for inspiration but consciously try to create things that are my very own design, possibly made up of ideas that I have seen, but they are done my way and with my style. While I wish, hope and pray that people will continue to take interest in our creations, I also know that it will take more than a wish to keep Urban Patina alive and flourishing. 

What's next for UP? I really don't know. I haven't really had a plan this entire time, I've just kinda gone with it. I've tried to force myself to put together a plan but that seems really rigid and confining. I recently read an article on Wit & Delight by Kate Arends {you can read the whole article here.} where she said something that really resonated with me. She said, "I’m just going to put good things out there. We’ll see what happens next." This is what I plan to do. Together Paul and I will continue to make unique and quality creations; and will do so with love and passion.

I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do what I love. And I’m even more thankful for all the people that have encouraged and supported us along the way. 


I invite you to follow us on social media for more a more immediate look at what we are up to:

On Facebook at Urban Patina
On Instagram at @UrbanPatina


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

American Empire Dresser

Ok! I don't know how to fully articulate how happy yours truly was when I picked up this dresser. I was ecstatic! No beyond ecstatic...I was crazed. I have been lusting for an American Empire dresser for what seems like a hundred years. I was in complete shock that I had found one and even more shocked when I was lucky enough to get to bring it home and add it to my decor.

You know that feeling when you have something that has been on your want list for a LONG LONG time and you finally get to make that want a reality...that is how I felt about this dresser. I know most people wish for more important things and you probably think that I'm half nuts for having a dresser on my list...but that is how I roll. Call me crazy, you're probably right!


This guy was in fair condition considering it's about 200 years old. As usual, the drawers definitely needed some repairs and somewhere along the line someone had done a poor job of trying to refinish it so there was shoddy work that I needed to make right. 

I'm pretty sure the wood on the drawers is curly maple and it was jaw dropping gorgeous. To let the wood shine, I just took the old finish back to the natural wood and sealed the drawers and the knobs with ASCP dark wax. The finish is smooth like butter on these babies now.

I painted the body structure in ASCP Graphite and sealed it with wax too.

That wood on the drawers and those chunky legs are so lovely. {heart throb}

I thought about replacing the knobs with something more splashy but I think the large wooden knobs look great and don't distract from the natural beauty.

Now I can check this style dresser off my want list...except I would love to get my hands on another...I sense a problem!

I'm starting on some really outrageous spring projects...some new ideas and bringing back some favorites from last year. I'll be posting new things in the upcoming weeks as well as information on my spring and summer show schedule.

I thank you for stopping by the UP blog today and checking out my latest project. Take care!