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New Beginings

We started on a couple of new projects today. They are going to be in the works for a long time, mostly because we are still working on getting settled into our new house. 

One of them is this old mid-century modern dresser that was passed down to me from my great grand mother.

  
 We actually have the set but the dresser is going to be our new entertainment center, believe it or not.

I just removed a couple of the drawers that are a little worse for ware. 

  
See it’s better already,

Used a hole saw to cut a few holes for components in the backer board. Or let Mr. Smith do so, since hole saws terrify me after my father almost lost a finger to one. 

  
And voila 

  
I plan on painting the top, sides,  and bottom boards, as well as the vertical support in the middle. Then I’ll  refinish the drawer fronts and feet and stain them a darker wood color to match the other furniture in the house. Im still not sure what color I’ll paint the exterior. I might go with the same TARDIS blue the side table is. What do you think? 

I’ll save the other project we started on for a later post. It’s going to be quite a doosie in the long run. 

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Simplicity

Keeping it short and simple this week. I stained a little letter using a fun and easy technique.

  
For this project I used a little monogram from target but if you have a good scroll or jig saw you can make your own shapes. 

  
I drew out what design I wanted in chalk first but then decided just to wing it

  
Using a small brush I painted the design on using plain old wood glue, nothing special just elmers.

  
Let the glue dry thoroughly

Then apply a thin coat of a dark stain (or at least darker than the natural wood tone) and quickly buff off any excess

  
Voila your pattern is left natural. 

It’s a quick and easy way to add detail to a project and it’s pretty versatile as well. If you’re not comfortable free handing a pattern you can always mask off a geometric pattern like stripes or chevrons.

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An Empty Chair

I’m about to bring down the mood and I would like to apologize for that in advance. However I was abruptly reminded of how ones life can change in the blink of an eye recently. My fiancé and I have known one another for 8 years, we’ve been together for a cumulative 4 and in that time we’ve essentially become a part of each other’s family.

Three weeks ago my fiancé lost his mother and father in one fell swoop. One phone call completely changed our lives. It’s still early days and I’m not sure how we pick up the pieces or where we go from here. My parents have been my rock, but for my fiancé being an only child and living far away from any extended family I’m amazed at every second he manages to make me laugh and giggle.

It’s reminded me just how much we need each other in our lives and shown me how unconditionally we love one another and our families.

I do have a project this week, I was planning on sharing it last week but couldn’t bring myself to write about it. My future mother in law was one of my biggest supporters, she always shared my posts and always had encouraging things to say. When my fiancé (you know what, I’m going to call him Mr. Smith for the sake of stream lining) and I moved in together there was a chair that his parents gave to him that we though might work well with the desk I refinished last year.


It was in pretty rough shape, the varnish was peeling, the stain was uneven and it was rather scratched and marred.


I stripped and sanded it, the whole time sending update pictures to Mr. Smith’s mom. She was rather surprised the chair hadn’t ended up in the garbage after all these years but you know me and solid wood furniture, where there is sandpaper there is a way.


After sanding I did a final run down with fine steel wool. You just can’t appreciate woodwork until you’ve used steel wool on it, it’s like the butter on the bread.


Then it was on to staining I used a combination of ebony and mahogany to get a warmer finish then plain ebony. It being on maple wood vs. my desk’s mahogany it’s still much cooler toned but I knew I wouldn’t get an exact match. It was more that I actually had a chair that fit in the narrow space under the desk unlike modern desk chairs.
 I was so excited to see what her reaction to the finished blog would be its one of the many things I’ll encounter throughout the rest of my life that will remind me she isn’t here anymore. Not to mention all of the myriad of other things that we won’t get to enjoy with them. They won’t be there to help us move into a new house, and guide us through all the perils of home ownership. They won’t be witness for our little courthouse wedding, or compare new cars and try to decide who would win in a drag race (without ever actually racing lol).

Every blog I post will remind me she isn’t there cheering me on. But as Mr. Smith has reminded me that’s no reason to stop, we go on, we do the things we love and the things she loved, we remain the people she loved and we remember.

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Cheater’s Chalk Paint

Back to those darn chairs, shall we?

I love the look of chalk paint particularly when used with dark wax. I just don’t love the price tag. A quart of good quality chalk paint can cost upwards of $30 add in the cost of the specialized wax and brushes and you’re looking at a $100 project. I figured I could either do it far cheaper or fail miserably at trying.

So first and foremost I cleaned up my chairs, chalk painting claims not to have any prep work. No sanding etc. but if you are working on old dining room chairs I suggest at least giving them a scrub with some Murphy’s Oil Soap just to get the grime from years of family dinners and years of furniture polish and wax off, or not even the best paint will stick.

After that I just started painting away with my favorite primer, which happens to be a really cheap ceiling paint. Ceiling paint is very thick, and very flat so it likes to stick to things and dries rather quickly, it also has good tooth to it. Tooth is the texture that helps other things stick. It’s like painting a canvas with gesso before starting a painting.

After the primer was dry I went in with the color. I did end up buying a quart of this color (it was a custom mix to match the fabric) just because I love it so I know I’ll use it on other projects, but I could have gotten away with just one $3 sample pot. Even at a quart it was only $15.

After getting the paint done I decided to tempt fate and go for the waxing. I decided to try to tint my own wax, I used Minwax finishing wax in natural (aka clear) which is around $10 for a can and a chocolate brown paint I had lying around. I simply took a scoop of the wax and a drizzle of the paint and very thoroughly mixed the two. As you can tell my measuring was very precise.

EEEEEEEWWWWW

I just used a cheap chip brush to mush the wax on, waited a minute or two, and buffed it off. The finishing wax is technically a matte varnish so it will dry hard and help protect the paint finish on the piece. That also means you have to work in small areas at a time so you don’t allow it to dry all the way before buffing it off. The now tinted wax will stick in recessed areas like corners and carved details and any cracks and scratches that the piece has accrued over the years. You could also distress the piece before starting if you wanted it to have a little more character. I discovered that if you happen to have a patch that dries a bit too much before you get a chance to buff it, it can be salvaged. Just put some wet wax overtop of it, wait a minute, and wipe again. It will soften the dried wax and take it back up.

Keep in mind you don’t have to tint your wax a chocolate brown you can tint it whatever color you like. A darker version of the color you’ve already painted the piece would look amazing I have a feeling. Go crazy and do lime green wax on a bright pink piece. Actually I would really like to see that. Or you could tint the wax with white paint and put it over a natural wood piece to give relief to carved areas.

From this to that to finally done!

Yes I realize in the long run it is a few more steps than chalk paint but it also only cost (even with brushes) around $35 in supplies versus the inordinate amount that doing it with chalk paint would have cost me. So the pros, at least for me, outweigh the cons.

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The Kitchen Island of Misfit Chairs

It’s not actually an island it’s a dining room table, but that didn’t sound nearly as festive.

So we received this table from a friend of ours. Who had previously got it from another friend of ours, and by the time that “first” owner had it the table was already second hand. So with this project I had the opportunity to do some serious archaeology.

When we received the chairs they had a lovely teal fabric on them. I wasn’t opposed to the teal but they were a little sun faded and stained from years of use and the cushioning was breaking down. I knew our friend hadn’t replaced the cushioning when she reupholstered instead opting just to recover the existing fabric. Which truth be told, is the only kind of upholstery work I’ve ever done.

So out the staples came to reveal what our other friend had for her chair cushions. Each chair a different pattern. We had actually considered doing this, all the same color scheme just different patterns, but eventually I found a bargain on some fabric I loved and just couldn’t pass it up. This is very much her style and her current dining setup has all different chairs not just different patterns on the same chairs.

So off that fabric came…. And what a surprise. The misfits were not the last layer. There was the most boring khaki color you have ever seen underneath.

So off that came as well. To reveal the horrors…

Turns out all of that work was for nothing, the seat bases were delaminating. Also the actual cushioning material was made out of an old egg crate mattress pad. Which was slightly horrifying. That didn’t matter as we planned on replacing that anyway. But the wood for the seats would have to be replaced.

Luckily one had already been replaced, two owners back if the fabric strata are to be believed. So that one was excellent to use as a template. We simply traced it out on our new sheet of plywood, used the table saw to rip it down and a jig saw to round the corners. And hey presto! New seats.

Next on to the foam padding, once again using the already refurbished one as a template.

Finally after the couple of bumps in the road (and a coffee cup full of staples… that could have made for a bad morning) we could get down to upholstery.

I’ve recovered a few things before, like I said I’ve never done it from scratch. The only real difference I found is that because you’re pulling on new foam and placing tension on the fabric you can if you’re not careful run into puckering. As long as you start from the middle, alternate sides, work towards the corners and be careful how much tension you put on the fabric you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

And always remember that if you do get puckering you can always pull out and replace staples to relieve it, mistakes are going to happen and they aren’t permanent in this case. I had to pull out quite a few on my first couple of chairs before I got the hang of it.

When all was said and done, we had lovely and oh so comfortable new seat cushions.

We also had a pile of old fabric and a coffee cup full of staples.

Also note I did not in any way try to center my pattern… do yourself a favor and do the same if you are trying this for the first time, from what I understand it’s not the easiest thing in the world

Next up we will be painting the chairs… wooo hooo!

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Desk Part 4: The Break Down

So we went from this

To this

Then on to this

And this is what it cost

Desk- $52.00

Handles-$27.00

Stripper- $11.98

Stain-$8.49

Tung Oil-$10.07

Paint for handles and broken foot-$2.98

Glue and resin for broken foot-$6.98

Sand paper-$2.00

Steel Wool-$3.97

Brushes-$1.00

Shop towels-$10.98

Contact paper-$9.99

Gloves-$2.00

Grand total $149.44

A good number of these things (Brushes, wood glue, paint, stripper, shop towels, contact paper, steel wool)are things that either I just had on hand already or have some left over and will be used again for future projects.

In case anyone was under a different impression I just want to note that I am a complete amateur at this. As in, I’ve never done anything of this sort before in my life. There were a lot of firsts with this project. I had never used a rotary tool before, never stained anything before (at least not wood and not on purpose). I had never used Tung oil. I had never used a resin to sculpt something, never had to reapply veneer or try to remove shellac (hopefully I will never have to do those two things ever again). The point is, I believed I could do it. More than that I believed that this sad little cast off of a desk could be something beautiful again, and I’m so very glad that it’s my something beautiful.

Now I do believe there is a dining room table that is begging for some t.l.c. as well. But in the mean time I may need some smaller projects. If any of you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate them. In fact feel free to follow me on Pinterest so we can swap ideas.

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Desk Part 3: The Cherry On Top

Oh! Finally! The home stretch.

All that’s left is to put handles on. One of those (the one seen in the blog post here) required new holes. I left the drilling of said holes up to someone else. Mainly because I don’t trust myself to get them positioned correctly.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part Zero, Part One, and Part Two

I decided to paint the outsides of the drawer sides. Mostly because I got stain all over them. It wasn’t pretty, and even though I have no intention of leaving the drawers hanging open all the time it will be nice to have them look decent. Instead of looking like I’ve slopped stain all down the sides and hastily tried to wipe it up just to have it spread around. Which is what actually went down. Paint fixes everything in my book.

After one coat of my go to Dark Kettle Black.

I also lined the drawers to cover up the ink stains and various other oddness. This is very much a two person job. Not just a two person job, but a two person job in which you must delegate tasks according to strengths and weaknesses. It turns out my boyfriend is great at spreading out the contact paper smoothly however horrible at holding the contact paper up. I’m the opposite. Actually my boyfriend is likely better at both of those things but that night he couldn’t hold his arms up six inches after having spent the day painting a ceiling. I remember that pain and am not eager to relive it.

The cat approves of this one

The aforementioned handle makes an appearance

To do this you might want a credit card or a small squeegee to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles, as well as an exact-o knife to cut the excess as close to the edge as possible.

So now absolutely everything is done and ready to be moved in. Its time you see why I was so eager to get a new desk.

This is the setup I’ve been dealing with for the last six months. It’s rather unpleasant in the way of room to work not to mention aesthetics.

Yup he approves

This is so much better, although I will be playing around with the setup over the next couple of days and I doubt my CPU will stay up there. Either way a vast improvement.