Friday, July 31, 2015

Fun Little Table

My daughter spotted this table on the curb and thankfully thought of me! She actually gave it to me last year and I started to work on it. But as the project progressed I decided that my initial design idea just didn't fit the piece, so I stopped mid-project and tucked it away in my basement.

I decided to pull it out and do something with it while I am (impatiently) waiting for some supplies I need in order to finish my desk project. 

Once again I was stumped as to what to do with it. Neither vintage nor rustic seemed to work on the straight edge lines. There is always a modern finish but I wasn't feeling that either. Then it hit me to go with "fun". 

Lots of ideas flowed from that thought (checker board, stencil, graphics, etc.), but I needed to keep it quick and simple as it's not a big dollar item. So I painted the base in pink and added white to the table top. I added fun little dots, sealed with varnish, and then called it a day. The new finish is definitely fun and would work well as a night table or in a play room.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Desk Part 2: Prep Work

This blog post is a continuation of the desk project that I am working on. Previously I selected a design scheme and then sanded the desktop in preparation for staining. Now it's time for the un-glamorous part of the project . . . prep work. Here's my to-do list for today:

  • Apply shellac to base
  • Remove hardware from drawers
  • Clean drawers
  • Repair drawers
  • Shellac drawers
  • Stain top
  • Seal top

Preparation Phase

Since the desk has an old worn finish with dark stain, and I'm planning a lighter color scheme, I know there is a high probability of tannin bleeding through. Sometimes you cannot tell ahead of time, but after I washed away all the dirt and grime, I did a final wash and there was some staining on the towel. That's a big clue there will be bleed through.

My husband is helping with repairs
even though he doesn't get to keep the desk. :-)
There a couple of options to stop the bleed through. One is an oil based primer which works great except, because I'm impatient, it takes too long to dry. I opted to use shellac instead because it dries quickly. However, the problem with shellac is that you cannot always tell if you have good coverage and still might get spots of bleed through. If you missed a spot you'll notice it after the first coat of paint, so simply apply more shellac before the second coat of paint.

I went ahead and applied two coats of shellac to the base of the desk (hoping it will do the trick but knowing I will probably still have to spot treat it). 
Before applying shellac.

After applying shellac.
Here's a view of the back of the desk.

The Drawers

I removed the hardware then re-cleaned the drawers and scraped and sanded crud from the drawer bottoms. I applied shellac to the interior and exterior of the drawers. Normally I don't paint the inside of the drawers; however these don't look very pretty at all. Sometimes just a coat of shellac or poly is all that is needed to refresh the wood, but these will need further treatment as the project progresses. 

For today all I did was apply one coat of shellac. I will apply another coat later in the project once I decide what to do with the interiors. A couple of the drawers required some glue, but otherwise they are in good working order.

I number the backs of the drawers to keep them in the correct order.
You'd be surprised how many times they don't fit back in interchangeably.
This one is labeled "R1".
Not too pretty. Yet.
This shot gives you an idea of the condition 
the desk was in when I bought it.
Repairs in progress.
After one coat of shellac they are starting to brighten up.

Staining the Desk Top

The next step was to stain and seal the top of the desk. I chose Java Gel Stain by General Finishes. I also selected a gel topcoat in a satin finish. I've heard a lot of positive reviews about this product and was happy to have a chance to finally use it. The gel stain was very easy to apply and wasn't as messy as liquid stains. 

I had to move the desk throughout the day to keep it in the shade. Dry time is 6-8 hours but it actually dried much quicker since it was near 100 degrees outside.  Nevertheless, I waited the minimum dry time of 6 hours and then applied one coat of the gel top coat. It also went on easily and dried to a satin finish. The only thing I didn't like about the product was it was extremely difficult to open the lid. I'm not sure if it was user-error or if there was a defect in the can I purchased.

I had to wrestle the lid open. Not happy :-(
After applying the top coat; it's shiny because it is still wet.
Here it is almost dry. The satin finish is more apparent as it dries.
That finished up what turned out to be a long but productive day. I'm letting the stain cure for a couple of days before I begin the really fun part of applying color. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Desk Part 1: Design and Getting Started

Do your projects always turn out exactly as planned? Occasionally mine do, but usually my plans change and evolve to some degree along the way. Sometimes my initial vision doesn't look just right after I get started, or the piece I'm working on presents an unexpected challenge which requires a design change. I typically will post a "before and after", but for this project I will post the step-by-step process as I work on the desk.

Color Inspiration

Deciding on a color scheme is one of the first steps. Sometimes it comes right to me and other times I need to search for inspiration. I found these beautiful dresses on Pinterest and love the combination of pale blue and off-white with a darker contrast color.
Day dress, ca. 1904-1905
Found on Pinterest

Pale blue 2-piece pigeon waist dress, no date. Boned cotton camisole closing w/hooks at center front. Lace collar & jabot hook onto camisole. Blue cotton lawn outer waist hooks below jabot for vestee effect. Narrow black velvet ribbon at collar with bow. Bodice front heavily decorated w/embroidery & clocking. Long, sheer narrow sleeves have narrow cuff w/matching embroidery. White cotton petticoat w/narrow ruffles. Skirt has matching handwork in black & ivory, & clocking. Woodland Farms Vintage
Found on Pinterest
The tricky part for me will be the pale blue. Mixing colors is not my strong point, so if I cannot get it just right then I will have to rethink the colors. But for now I'll stick with my color scheme and plan out how to apply it to the furniture. I will use a dark contrast color on the top and hardware; pale blue on the panels and drawer fronts; and off-white on the base and trim. However, I don't want too much of a contrast between the top and the base, so I will use the trim on the edge of the top as a transition area.

Since the back of the desk can be placed either against a wall or forward facing (think greeting visitors) I am considering adding something decorative to the back. I haven't decided exactly what I want yet, so I will keep it in the back of my mind as the project progresses. 

Getting Started

Deep scratches
I started with the top of the desk. It has quite a few deep scratches and the finish is in overall bad shape. Sometimes it's hard to capture the extent of the damage in a photograph. But I'll add a couple of shots to give an example of the condition.

Overall damage to the finish.
The easiest and quickest way would be to fill the scratches and paint the top. But I decided to see if sanding it would do the trick and then stain the top. I used an orbital sander starting with 60-grit sandpaper. I progressed upwards from the 60-grit to 80-grit, 150-grit, and then finished with 220-grit.
After sanding with 60-grit sandpaper.
After progressing up to 220-grit.

No more deep scratches! So smooth!
I am very pleased with the final result of the sanding, so I will proceed with staining the top rather than painting it. I have a variety of stains on-hand, but not the right shade, so I'll need to go to the store before proceeding with the project. Thanks for stopping by my blog. :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

It Truly is Better to Give

My husband and children have a talent for selecting wonderful and thoughtful gifts. Unfortunately that talent seems to have escaped me. Case in point, I've been wanting to upgrade my husband's desk for a long time now. It's a classic 1980's pressed board piece of furniture, and although it's served us well over the years, it is dated. I actually like dated furniture because that usually spells b-a-r-g-a-i-n and makes for wonderful transformations. But I don't like the style of his desk, so I've been looking for a new (translation = newer) desk for him.

Twin Pedestal Desk. 

The Find

I made a quick unplanned stop at a thrift store while out running errands last week. It was on the way so why not? Tucked in the corner was this twin pedestal desk. My favorite style! I love its versatility for furniture placement. You can tuck it against a wall or, because the back is finished, center it in the room. This one was only $25 which was in my price range, and I thought it would be a perfect piece to refinish for my husband for our upcoming anniversary. I paid for it on the spot (all sales final) then went home for my husband and our truck.


My husband didn't bat an eye at my purchase. But when I told him I was going to refinish it for him he flat out said he didn't want it. To be fair, it looks better in the photos than it actually was. The photos were post-scrubbing and disinfecting. And it had dog hair all over it. OK I admit it might not have looked like a gem, but you need vision! My original plan was to re-stain the desk top and drawer fronts, paint the base in a lamp black, and finish the hardware in an oil rubbed bronze. He didn't let me explain that though, and because I know him so well, I knew he was thinking whatever I did to it would look "girly".

Sweet hardware!


I was hurt by the rejection for about 3 seconds. In the end it turned out to be the best gift I gave to someone, because I get to keep it for myself! So I'm changing my initial design plans to something a little more feminine (girly). I cannot wait to get started! Instead of doing my usual before-and-after posts, I will post the step-by-step process so you can follow along.

Lovely trim!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

These Tables are HOT, HOT, HOT!

A hot day for working outdoors! 
Seriously! The temperatures here in southern Ohio have been toasty to say the least. I think the official temperatures were in the upper 90's with heat indexes in the 100's. But it was 102 degrees in the shade on my deck which is where I worked on these tables this past weekend. And that was after the heat of the day! The weather forecast for the rest of this week is for slightly cooler temperatures in the low 80's. Ah sweet relief!


Now that we got the weather chit-chat out of the way, let's talk about these sweet nesting tables. The construction and materials are similar to the coffee table that I recently refinished, which was vintage 1960's, so my best guess is these tables are from the same era. 

The "before" look was very pretty and charming. But I wanted a fresh new look for them. So out came the painting supplies and the transformation started.


I decided to go with a shabby chic look with a bit of French flair. I chose a color scheme of Paris Grey and Old White. I added French inspired graphics to the top of each table and gave the graphics a worn look. Next I lightly distressed each table and then hand waxed and buffed them for a beautiful finish. Each table also includes a glass insert that rests on the top which will help protect the finish for years to come.



View from top

Graphic on largest table.

Graphic on medium table.

Graphic on smallest table.

Grouped separately.

One last view!

The tables are versatile and would function beautifully in an entryway, living room, or office. But I think they would work exceptionally well as bedside tables with the largest on one side of the bed and the other two tables on the other side. 

Personal Notes

Today marks day 21 of my goal of walking 10,000 steps per day. I got off to a bit of a shaky start but am happy to report that, with only a couple of exceptions, I have met or exceeded my goals each day. Go me! I started the walking program with the hopes of increasing my energy and to lose a few pounds. 

In addition to tracking my steps each day I am only using two additional measurements to track my progress -- weight and waist circumference. I was excited to lose 4 lbs. the first week, but the 4 lbs came back the next week. That was discouraging; however, it might be partially due to the hot weather. Overall over the course of the 3 weeks I have lost a total of 2 lbs. On a positive note I have lost 2 inches in my waist and my energy levels have increased. I'm going for another 21 days and will work on gradually increasing my steps to 15,000 per day. 

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Encore! Pink and White Chest of Drawers

You might remember the pink and white chest of drawers that I completed earlier this summer. I was contacted by a client looking for the same color scheme and she asked me to be on the lookout for another piece. Although I wasn't able to find something exactly the same, I was able to find a similar chest. The client approved the new chest, and so the transformation started.


Based on the construction I would guess the chest was made circa 1970's to 1980's. It has 5 drawers with raised panels and a lovely piece of dental moulding across the front. I didn't have to give too much thought into planning since my client asked for the same color scheme as before. Nevertheless, I did have to refer back to photos of the inspiration piece to make sure I replicated it as close as possible.
Inspiration piece.

The inspiration piece had more distressing than I initially remembered. I went ahead and added some light distressing to the new piece but kept it to a minimum. I can always add more or less depending on the client's preference.

Even though I didn't have to give much thought to the color scheme, it was still essential to plan out the painting process especially when painting two colors. It's easier to paint the base color over the entire piece and then add on the secondary color. However, if you add distressing then the base color might show through in areas that you don't want it to.

Since I planned to distress the edges of the raised panels, I knew I would need a clean paint line. I went ahead and painted the outer areas of the drawers in pink but didn't bother to tape off the raised panels. I wasn't concerned at this point about the pink overlapping onto the panels as it is a simple process to wipe off. Just take a slightly damp washcloth and "erase" any of the paint as necessary. I did go ahead and tape off the pink border before I added the white because no matter how careful you are there is always the chance of paint splattering.

Pink paint overlapping onto raised panel.
I "erased" the overlap with a damp washcloth. 


And here is the finished chest of drawers!

The color scheme is Antoinette Pink
and Old White (ASCP).

View from side.

Light distressing added to edges.