Posts by: Harry Koffman

Tove-Lo-Talking BodyTove Lo might have caught your ear this time last year with her slow building hit, “Habits (Stay High)”, an ode to marijuana self-medicating. I’m all for some green but the track just didn’t tickle my fancy. So I took no interest in this artist with the odd name, who reminded me of another emo, indie pop Lorde – no thank you. Well, I’m owning my bad judgement because I was wrong and if you were at this year’s Boston Calling you might have caught Tove Lo tearing up the stage. What changed my opinion on Tove Lo? Her second single, “Talking Body”. Released in January of this year, the track has gained popularity on top 40 radio over the last few months and I guarantee it will have your feet moving this summer. The lyrical content and musical composition seamlessly flow together to create a mid-tempo bass, heavy groove with the sexiest, catchiest hook you’ve ever heard. After hearing “Talking Body” I listened to the rest of her album and was not disappointed. Check the track below and get your summer groove on.

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unlimited choices and lengthy directions...

workshop days. unlimited choices and lengthy directions…

I really do try to follow directions when it comes to my work. I read all the instructions on the back of each finish or paint I purchase, I prep the projects accordingly and I google anything and everything to try and create the best finished product I can. But sometimes…I’m just too impatient — or my vision for the project just isn’t translating into the real world as I wanted it to. If for some reason said project starts to look worse than it did on the side of the road, then that’s when I really start to break the rules. I’ll try anything to fix it in that moment, if it starts to get worse than I usually hate myself for being so impulsive, if it starts to get better, I blow smoke up my own ass and think of how one can be such a genius.

Why am I going on a rant about proper application of paint or stain, or prepping a surface correctly? Because sometimes it really just doesn’t matter what the product says you’re supposed to do with it. “For best results” is all relative.

dresser beforeFor instance, take this dresser covered in layers of paint. Latex, oil, lead – the whole shebang. It’s old and looks like crap because paint was just slopped on. Which is why I’m sure it was on the side of the road. I could tell the piece was solid and I was attracted to the simple, mid-century lines and oversized pull handles. Naturally the first step was to remove all those layers of paint. My method of choice when it comes to layers of old finishes? Paint remover — I’ll take the toxic fumes over lead dust. “Strips all paints in 30 minutes!” No it doesn’t.

It was hot as hell outside and the humidity was off the charts. I followed the instructions for proper application. That’s an hour and a half of paint removal in mid-May in Massachusetts. I was burning up like a hooker in church surrounded by toxic chemicals wearing goggles and the thickest, longest chemical gloves you’ve ever seen. We’re talking “Breaking Bad” status here, without the meth. So not only was I dripping sweat onto the dresser, I’m pretty sure the fumes were starting to get to me as well.  After playing nice with my putty knife and pick set, I grabbed my beastly wire brush and attacked the dresser drawers. Not only does lead paint cause dementia when ingested — which my brain cannot afford, it turns to goo when using paint remover. I was basically brushing the paint around on the wood.

paint remover progression

Once I realized these streaks of forest green and white were here to stay, I decided to take a chance and go with a distressed look. I feathered out the paint to smooth the edges so it blended nicely with the wood and sealed it with polyurethane. Going back to my rules rant — all polyurethane products say they cannot be applied over paint — is a lie. I found this out by breaking the rules and coming up with a different, but equally admirable finished product. The polyurethane is smooth to the touch and dried perfectly, just as it would on a clean, clear wooden surface.

The frame of the dresser was a different story and was able to be completely stripped because of its simple shape. So no problems there.

Dresser - after

What’s my point here? Break the rules and get creative. Experiment with your findings. If you picked something from the trash and it ends up looking like shit…you can always put it back in the trash.

If you enjoyed reading this article, or you’re interested to see what else I’ve created, you can find me on Etsy here.

 

dancing with myself cover

Disco does something to my body. I’m not sure if it’s the tempo, the funky synthesizers, occasional brass influences or piano chords, but there’s something about it that takes my two Jewish left feet on a ride that I never want to get off. The Knocks never fail in my book; they take the world of disco and funk to an unparalleled level of greatness. Their music speaks for itself and the new track, Dancing With Myself, follows the trend of becoming another dance masterpiece. With smooth vocals from Mr. J. Patt, over a bass heavy piano driven track, this mid-tempo funky jam should have your head bobbing. Dancing With Myself is the lead single from The Knocks’ debut full length album. If their past singles and EP’s are any indication, the future of the Knocks,  should be nothing less than spectacular. Watch the brand new video for Dancing With Myself below.

dabin bloodless

This track blew me away on so many levels, the first being that I did not believe it was the bass heavy, synthesizer enthusiast and producer Dabin, whom I discovered via Pandora last summer. The track is unlike any of his previous work, which tended to be on the heavier side of the electronic music spectrum. Dabin brings his signature electro style to Bloodless with impeccable melodic instrumentation, but with a softer touch. It is filled with screaming synthesizers, hand claps, ominous horns and an interchangeable bass line that gives you enough time to let it all out on the dance floor, take a break and start all over again. The composition of the track, combined with breathy vocals provided by guest feature Sarah Lee – not to be confused with the cake – conjoin in an effortless, electro dance production. I give Dabin’s new sound five stars and look forward to hearing more from this illusive DJ. His newest track was just featured as a premier on the popular Euro based UKF, which could be a real sign to rising recognition. Give Bloodless a listen below and see if you agree.

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I found this armoire back in July which I previously posted about and had yet to finish until now – here’s a quick back story on my original idea. My first thought was to create a shabby chic, black and gold armoire for myself. After realizing it wouldn’t fit in my apartment, (I pretty much knew that already) I decided to go back to the drawing board and give it another look. Shabby chic was still the direction I was going in, but this bulky, hard angled piece needed a softer, more neutral look for potential buyers-more of a rustic influence the second time around.

Armiore - Before
Armiore - After

Both mirrored panels were nearly unsalvageable, with a good amount of scratches on them. After I dropped and shattered one, they were ultimately scrapped. I began to fear that the true nature of this soon to be “armoire from hell” was too dark without the mirrors and I had to start over. Previously the black stain worked well because the mirrored panels brought light to the armoire. While the gold Victorian-esque pull handles and crown molding added elegance and detail, they now looked out of place without the mirrors and black stain. Adding anymore black to the piece would have made it even darker and a lighter color for the doors, paneling and drawer faces would have brought out a contrast I wasn’t looking for.

With a pile of vintage pine tongue and groove bead board, some scrapped pallet wood and a can of oil based, high gloss, cream paint, I achieved the softer, more rustic look I envisioned without the mirrors. The warmer tones, custom made pull handles and a glossier sheen transformed the hard angled bulky armoire to something softer and a lot more neutral. I added two vintage brass knobs from my hoarded hardware collection to each door and stayed consistent with brass on the pull handles – though the hinges are still brushed chrome.

Scrap Pallet WoodChopped pallet wood ready to be turned into handles.
Handles Mid StagePull handles mid-stage, sanded and alligned.

Pull handles stained and attached.

Pull handles stained and attached.

I like this piece because of how it evolved into something completely different than I first pictured, all while using salvaged materials. It’s eclectic, though not perfect, shabby chic and unique. It was a pain in the ass using the materials that I did but at the end of the day I created a statement piece from something a person tossed in my dumpster (still wondering why and how they managed to actually put it inside the dumpster).

Side viewA before shot of the side. Lots of water damage on the paneling and was most likely the reason it thrown out.
Side view after. After the damaged paneling was cut out and filled. A tedious but easy fix as an alternative to throwing something away.

Inside the armoire. The piece is compact and not very deep but perfect for hanging nice shirts. The smaller area is a little more than a foot tall and is great for toiletries.

Inside the armoire. The piece is compact and not very deep but perfect for hanging nice shirts. The smaller area is a little more than a foot tall and is great for toiletries.

Like what you see? Visit my website to see more of what I do. Perhaps you have furniture that needs to be seen in a new light.

Madonna-Rebel-Heart-thatgrapejuiceAm I biased because I owned the Immaculate Collection at age 5? Probably. That really is beside the point though because Madonna is back in full force with her new album Rebel Heart. After what was being called the “madonnagate” (her whole upcoming album leaked online in demo version and she was NOT happy) – Madonna decided to release five official versions of the leaked tracks on iTunes to hold her fans over until the full set is released in March. One of those tracks is called “Devil Pray” an acoustic bass-heavy ode to self-medication. Or is it? At first listen you might think, okay girl sit down, it’s not cool to sing about drugs when you’re in your mid 50’s (I for one think it’s great, light up that J Madge). The interpretation of “Devil Pray” is up for debate, but I think the song speaks to people coming together as one, an unstoppable force for the devil to reckon with, rather than self-medicating with drugs alone – which doesn’t get you too far. Either way, the track is fun to sing, and the hypnotic bassline should have you bopping around happily. Listen below and see what YOU think Madge is talking about with “Devil Pray.”

Catch the queen live this year at the Grammy’s, the “Unapologetic Bitch” singer should have an interesting performance for us all to say the least.

 

Monstercat AcensionFractal has been a favorite of mine after continually catching my ear with his electro house tracks via Monstercat Records. Itvara takes the number one spot in my book. It’s a great track for both the underground and mainstream music listeners to enjoy. Why? The beat is effortless and the breathy lyrics are a great addition to the euphoric atmosphere of the track. It gives you that authentic electro house sound with a mainstream twist; the lyrics. What makes my heart really flutter is the ebb and flow of buzzing synthesizers mixed with funky guitar twangs. The sounds are very different and blend beautifully together. Itvara is a magical electric creation that takes you into a floaty bass-happy playground. It’s always fun to get a little weird…Fractal should bring out your best parent-dancing moves on the floor and get your tush moving on the treadmill at the gym with this track. Give it a listen below – you can even download it for free, legally if you really like it. I love Monstercat!

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Light Fixture PlantersI came up with this when I was working on restoring the exterior of a home in Newton, more specifically the front door and the garage door. The sconces around the doors were original to the home, which was built in the 1940’s, so they were a bit worn out and on the smaller side. I held onto them for quite some time before I knew what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I was dismantling the actual light socket and the fixture was standing upright that I thought this could make a unique planter for an indoor house plant or succulent.

A before shot of the fixtures

The reason I decided to share this idea with you is because the sconces and flush-mount seen here are quite common, and almost always thrown out when replaced. There really isn’t much need for old fixtures that are somewhat blah, but when turned into planters, boring outdated fixtures are now a conversation piece.

This project is simple, your materials are inexpensive and you just need a few things besides some elbow grease.

 

 

MATERIALS:

STEEL WOOL

Match the grade of the steel wool with how much you’d like the fixture to look worn – the higher the grade, the more course it is. I went with grade 0 to lightly buff off some of the paint and reveal the metal underneath.

WD40

For any areas that are extremely rusty.

TERRACOTTA POT

Find the right size for your fixture, preferably one WITHOUT drainage – assume your fixture is not waterproof. Water plants sparingly that do not have a drainage hole. I recommend a succulent, they do not need a great amount of water.

PAINT REMOVER (OPTIONAL)

The copper fixture needed remover, once I started scrubbing with the steel wool and realized there was copper under the black paint I wanted to reveal more of the copper finish.

FEET/FELT PADS

Use these for the base of the fixture, since you’ve flipped the fixture upside down, most likely it will now have sharp edges.

The final product

The final product

NOTES

Only one pane of glass was put back into the planter on the left because the succulent chosen will eventually grow and wrap around the sides.

I chose to fill the copper planter with rocks for a nice contrast with the copper and to cover the terracotta pots inside.

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Froot

“Come and fill your cup up, looking for some good luck. Okay sure. Hanging like a fruit, ready to be juiced.” Yes, yes, yes. Marina Diamandis aka Marina & The Diamonds just released her latest single Froot and as always, she nailed it. Her alluring vocals over a euphoric and melodic production combine with the clever, sexually discrete lyrics to make Froot a hypnotic indie-pop, stroke of genius. The lyrical composition though is what really had my head bopping. The chorus comes out of nowhere and all of a sudden you disappear into a magical world of music,  reminiscent of Mama Mia! Close your eyes and let Froot take you away to an exotic Greek island. I can’t say I’ve ever heard a track like this, which makes me even more excited for this album. Give it a listen and see if you enjoy the paradise I call Froot.

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ClassicKeep your summer alive with this indie-disco electronic tune. The Knocks never fail to disappoint me so I may be biased but in my opinion this is their best song to date. The production/vocal content is on point, the breezy guitar riffs backed by a thumping bass and charming piano keys instantly take you away to your best night of summer. Powers, whom I’ve never heard before supplies raspy vocals, ever so fitting for this smooth tune, crooning come to me baby don’t be shy, don’t be shy….what else could you ask for? Classic is a feel good song anyone can appreciate. Check out the quirky video below and get ready to groove.

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Chair

This dining room set was passed along to me from my aunt; it had been sitting in her basement for about 15 years and previously belonged to my grandmother. I was up for the challenge to modernize the set and experiment with it, mainly because I remember sitting around the table in Fort Lauderdale in my grandparents sunroom and I didn’t want it to be trashed. Unfortunately all the before pictures were gone for good after my outdated iPhone 4s leapt out of my hands and plummeted to its death onto my hardwood floors.

chair5

Besides the maple tinted stain being outdated (in a bad way) and the table itself looking like it belonged somewhere tropical, it was covered in dirt and a lot of the bamboo was damaged around the feet of the chairs. There was no way I was going to sand and stain the set again, that would have taken quite some time so I decided to use a bonding agent (an oil based paint designed specifically for smooth surfaces and hiding stains) and went with a charcoal gray to match the slightly black tinted glass. Since there are many grooves in the set a paint sprayer was necessary to ensure even coverage and durability as the sprayer can create a thicker coat than both a roller or brush.

Once that was finished it was time to tackle the hideous floral print seat covers (sorry Bubbie). Originally I envisioned a black and white chevron print, but when the fabric seen below was on sale from $35.00 a yard to $5.00 a yard, I made the decision to go with that. The previous covering technique was simple, a standard diaper fold which I recreated with the new material. I kept the diaper fold because the print is intricate and speaks for itself, no need for piping or any fabric nails.

I was on the fence about painting bamboo, but overall was satisfied with the results. The unique lines of the bamboo, combined with the black tinted glass and new seat covers created a one of a kind look that was rather easy to accomplish. It’s also nice to say I saved something that had sentimental value, it doesn’t hurt that I created a dining room set for under $300.00 either.

table1

The Lunch Break Dresser

Since it’s been a little over two years after I found this piece, I think its okay that I tell the truth about this dresser. After a nice lunch at the now closed Channel Café in Fort Point (still not happy about that) with my friend and co-worker Allie Hyde, we drove back to the styleboston office in Southie and parked on M Street behind the building.

It was trash day in late August so I had been keeping my eyes peeled for furniture, as this is the time of year when lots of people toss their belongings they can’t move and find a new rental. It was pouring outside but that didn’t stop me from trying to shove this dresser in my little Toyota which of course, did not fit. I had been gone for over an hour now and the boss lady was not happy, but I decided this dresser was worth getting ripped a new one. I called my sister and told her how much I wanted it and since she is so great, came and picked it up for me in her SUV.

The Lunch Break Dresser 2

Allie and I walked in soaking wet looking not so stylish….Terri just looked at us like WTF and said “really guys, an hour and a half lunch break?” We also had coffee in our hands so that didn’t help, but that’s not the point – the point is I got my new dresser! So yes sitting in a cold office with a pissed off boss and wet pants was totally worth it, sorry Terri.

 

Mid-restoration, after I sanded the drawer faces. We do not endorse Dunkin Donuts - that coffee is not staged, I was just lazy.

Mid-restoration, after I sanded the drawer faces. We do not endorse Dunkin Donuts – that coffee is not staged, I was just lazy.

The dresser was simple and country, with brown shellac and white porcelain knobs. I decided to add a little flair and make it standout with a bold color scheme and oversized knobs. The four small drawers across the top we’re really what caught my eye. A great piece for a guy – the perfect amount of space for socks, underwear and toiletries. I kept the faces of the drawers clear to expose the Pine wood grain while using a slightly tinted polyurethane to enhance the pattern of the grain. To make the drawer faces standout I chose a deep gray-blue for the frame that I felt complimented the small brushed nickel knobs. Ceramic knobs with a cracked emerald glass overlay from Anthropologie were added to the top drawers. Again adding contrast in size, shape and color. The bold colors and fixtures make this formerly quaint, country and feminine dresser a unique statement piece.

Items from trash: brushed nickel knobs, mirror (refinished), plant tray (made from scrap wood), terracotta pot.

 

Items purchased: ceramic knobs, paint.

View more of my creations HERE

Digitalism-Wolves

No intro or build, just immediate bass. The bass is strong but not obnoxious or overpowering, it’s smooth and infectious – creating an intriguing backdrop for the rest of the song. I start by mentioning the bass line because it’s what made my ears perk up and take notice of the song in the first place. The vocals, provided by Young Blood Hawke are smooth and subtle, while choppy synthesizers hit hard mimicking the tempo of the bass. Combine the elements of Wolves and your product is that of a funky, indie-dance banger. Young Blood Hawke’s pitchy vocals make this track fun and bring the energy needed to match the heavily produced track. I’ve had my eye on Digitalism for a few years now as they’ve attracted some well known DJ’s to remix their tracks (Dillon Francis, Eric Prydz) and this tune, in my opinion surpasses any previous production I’ve heard by the German electro duo. Listen below and see for yourself.

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The Tree of It

“The Tree Of It” by local Boston artist, Zach Nolin

While tripping through my garden…

More from Zach Nolin

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Galantis-Runaway-U-I-2014-1500x1500

A strange blend of blaring piano chords and auto tune with a voice reminiscent of Florence & The Machine, Galantis takes progressive house, a genre stigmatized of simplicity to a whole different world. I can’t say this song is groundbreaking, but what I can say is that the combination of musical elements heard here is something my ears have yet to enjoy. Piano in EDM, boring – auto tune in EDM, it’s everywhere. What made me give this song a second listen and eventually love it was the combination of the two and the way her voice seamlessly ebbs and flows between syrupy vocals and squeaky auto tune, it’s captivating. The powerful bass line/piano combination creates a massive backdrop for the vocals adding to the overall euphoric feeling of the song, finishing it off beautifully. Simple and powerful with intricate elements flawlessly intertwined throughout the song, RUNAWAY (U&I) is fun and fearless, you’ll want to get up out of your seat at work, kick your shoes off and shake your body like you never have before. Watch the fun video below and tell us what you think.

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