Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mr Handsome Vintage Buffet

I’ve seen a lot of these buffets on Pinterest and in the blog world.  Just about any incarnation of these buffets takes them from drab to fab.  The befores and afters continue to amaze me.  When I got this guy home, I wasn’t sure what my plan was for him.  Thus, my board in Pinterest titled The New Buffet!  What can I say?  I’m a visual gal who needs to see a road map before I get in the car!  Gathering ideas helps me figure out what my next steps are.

Here he is just loaded off of the truck:  

My original plan was all Graphite.  I knew I would have bleed through if I went with a light color and just wasn’t in the mood for Shellac.  The top looked pretty bad and the home it came from was a bit disorderly so I didn’t think the top could be refinished.  But if I were going to skip Shellac, at least I could do is strip the top to make sure my assumption about the top being a hot mess was correct.  Enter stage left, my refinishing tools. 

This was my first venture with Formby’s Refinisher.  I liked it.  It took some muscle, but did a good job of getting the lacquer off of the top.  It made the sanding so much easier and wasn’t as messy as using a liquid stripper.  Pour a little into a container, dip the steel wool in the liquid, rub it in and watch the gooky stuff come off!  

Oh my…he is starting to strut his stuff!  This top is screaming for refinishing….Please don’t paint me!

My next step is to work on the base.  The drawers come out for a good scrubbing, slight sanding and then a thin coat of shellac.  I find it helps to eliminate any residual odors and gives a beautiful sheen to the wood grain. 

I stick with my original plan to use ASCP Graphite.  It takes two coats, and then gets some gentle distressing.  I’ve discovered using a damp cloth on the unwaxed paint gives a worn look and is not as messy as sanding. 

I applied a coat of clear wax and then dark wax to deepen the Graphite.  I’ve read some folks skip the clear wax when using Graphite and apply the dark wax directly onto the paint. It darkens the Graphite and gives it more depth.  I’ve not mustered the courage to attempt that yet! 

After the base is completed, I wrap him up and start to finish the top. 

I like the Dark Walnut Stain from Minwax, and since this piece may get some usage, I decided to apply poly acrylic for protection. 

And now for the unveiling…drum roll please...

And there he is in all of his glory.
As I mentioned earlier, these handsome pieces can go from drab to fab!

Thanks for stopping by…


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

This Lovely French Bench

Having a chair or bench in my bedroom has always been an important component to my bedroom design.  At the end of a long day, I am not always so tidy when it comes to hanging up my clothes.  Having a place to toss my things before I crawl into bed is essential for me.  Doesn’t everyone have their favorite “collect all” spot in their bedrooms?

When this bench popped up on Craigslist (sorry no before pictures!) it was in a deep mahogany red color with a dark green (grandma style) fabric.  I immediately knew she could be transformed into an elegant piece.  I don’t always have a clear vision when I make purchases, but I knew when I spotted her just what needed to be done.

I have seen a lot of ‘greige’ in the market place and thought a 1:1 ratio of Coco to Paris Grey would give me the warm gray I was looking for.  Bingo!  After my BFF Shellac was coated all over her, it was 2 quick coats of my greige formula. 

Although I planned to highlight some areas with Renaisaance Gold, I could see that wasn’t going to be enough.  She was looking a little flat.  I gave her a coat of clear wax, and then made a sludge of Old White and clear wax.  With each pass of the sludge, I followed up with a swipe of 00 steel wool to pull the sludge off and push it into the grooves, leaving a very slight hint of an Old White wash.  

My photography is not so great, but hopefully you can see where the Old White settled into the grooves of the legs, and created some definition in the carving at the top of the leg.  It is a subtle touch, but very effective. 

The Old White sludge helped, but she needed to be aged a bit.  I followed up with a light smattering of dark wax, again, pulling most of it off.  Now it was coming together!

This elegant lady needed a little bling, so out came the gold gilding wax.  Just little bits to highlight her really pretty curves and carvings! 

After a good buffing, I turned my attention to the bench seat.  I had a creamy white cotton damask with a French scroll design that was the perfect complement.  I picked a neutral fabric since I didn’t want anything to detract from the beautiful detail work in her frame. 

And now this tired, dark, drab bench has been given a new life, awaiting to adorn some aristocrat’s bedroom!  

Am I the only one who makes up stories about where our masterpieces are headed?

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, April 19, 2013

How do you decide if you've found a quality piece to refurb?

In my last post, I showed you a desk/vanity that got the Old White, refinished top treatment.  What I didn’t talk about was what made her such a great find on CL. 

As I share snicks and snacks of my life, I guess coming from a furniture family is something that would be relevant to this blog.  My grandfather and father started a retail furniture business in 1949.  As I was growing up, I heard all about Thomasville, Drexel, Henredon, Pennsylvania House, Broyhill  and the High Point Furniture Market.  I had the good fortune of working in the store for 25 years .  We were a medium to high end retailer and I eventually became the buyer for all of our upholstery and case products (wood furniture).  Since we regarded customer service as essential to our business model, buying good quality furniture was key.  I learned the value of dust covers, dovetail joints, solid versus chip core, and quality veneers versus yucky veneers.

Today, let’s talk today about dust covers , dovetail joints, glue blocks and drawer glides.  Wow!  This is some thrilling stuff!  

Dust covers are the horizontal dividers between drawers.  They are a sign of quality because they add to the strength of the piece.  Additionally, they provide a service by reducing the amount of dust that is passed from one drawer to another!  Thus the name “dust cover”!  

Dovetail drawers are another sign of quality.  Have you ever pulled out a drawer only to have the front of the drawer become disconnected from the body of the drawer?  Rarely does that occur with dovetailing.  The joints are interlocked in such a way that it makes it very difficult for the front to become dislodged from the rest of the drawer.  

The dovetailing gives us a clue as to the age of the piece.  The first picture posted of a dovetailed drawer has hand carved joints as opposed to the second picture where the dovetailing fits into the joints perfectly, as if done by machine!  I’m not sure of the history of when the manufacturers introduced the process of dovetailing by machine…perhaps  somewhere in the 1930s  - 1950s?  Nevertheless, dovetailed drawers are always a good sign of quality.  So if you find a piece like Dixie (not known as a high end manufacturer), check out the construction first before judging the name brand.

Last, but not least is the center rail under each drawer, commonly known as a drawer guide or drawer glide.  Once again, at the onset of machinery in the industry, quality furniture manufacturers introduced the wooden drawer guide to aid in the smooth and straight movement as drawers were opened and closed.  They also added triangular glue blocks for additional support to each drawer. 

As the industry found more efficient ways to mass produce furniture, they found ways to cut corners to lower their costs.  In this modern day, how often do you see solid woods, dovetailed drawers with dust covers and wood on wood drawer guides?  Some of the very high end manufacturers still maintain that level of quality, but the massed produced pieces have moved away from such quality. Here’s a more modern piece with metal drawer glides and glued drawer fronts: 

As you scour through thrift stores, answer Craigslist ads or attend yard sales, I encourage you to pull out those drawers!

I hope this wasn’t too boring of a post.  I try hard to find quality pieces to rehab.  It gives me such pleasure knowing I have found a gem, given her new life and found her a home where she will be loved and in turn will serve her new owner well.

Thanks for stopping by! 


Friday, April 12, 2013

The Huntley Desk

As I continue to share projects with you, I’d like to let you know a bit about my background.  But instead of dumping a long history on you, I thought I’d just let little bits dribble out at a time! 

I currently work from home and have periods of time when I am not involved with my job, but it is important I remain at my desk.  Hmmm, how shall I spend my time (productively) during those lulls?

Craigslist, baby, Craigslist!  I stalk it throughout the day, refreshing quite frequently.  Much to my surprise, this beautiful mahogany desk appeared

She had enjoyed better days, but her structure looked good.  Oh dear…no phone number in the CL listing so I fired off an email.  The listing was only 15 minutes old when I first spotted it.  Certainly I’ll be getting a call in response to my email. I waited for 90 whole minutes and had not received a reply.   It seemed like an eternity!  I sent another email.  “I don't mean to be a nudge, but I see the ad is still up.  Are you currently talking to someone else about this item or is it still available?”  Fortunately, the seller responded by letting me know others had been in contact with her, but no one had set up a time to come look at it.  Moral of the story, don’t assume! It’s okay to be a little forward!  Needless to say, this lovely desk came to live with us!

What do we know about pieces with the old dark red mahogany stains?  Shellac ‘em!  Or else put up with bleed through!  

See how shiny she is?  That's from a quick coat of shellac.  

I stripped and sanded the top (sorry no pictures!) and flipped her upside down on my work bench.  I find I get into all of the nooks and crannies much more thoroughly when the pieces are upside down.

I knew I wanted to apply clear and dark wax after she was painted so I gave her a very rough paint job.  It allows the wax to settle in the roughness of the paint and adds some character to the finished piece. 

After painting, she gets a coat of clear wax and then some distressing around the edges. And now for the "sludge".  I don’t do well with straight dark wax, so I mixed clear and dark wax together to create a 'sludge'. I applied it with my dark wax brush. This helpful tip is from StoneGable blog.  Here's the link for the tutorial.  It's a great site, by the way...

I learned a wonderful tip from Christen at  Apply the dark wax and then use some steel wool to lightly pull it off.  That tip has made such a difference in my technique.  She has a good video if you want to take a look.

I flipped over the vanity and gave her curvy top a good coat of Minwax Dark Walnut.  A few coats of polyacrylic and she is ready for adoption

This was my first stab at refinishing and I think it turned out well.  Another case of taking something old and breathing new life into it.
She was adopted by a lovely young woman who will be using it as a vanity.  

It may seem odd my posts include so many acknowledgments to others.  I've learned a great deal from these folks and I would feel guilty not giving credit where credit is due!

Lady's Desk/Vanity in French Blue

For me, painting furniture is not as simple as applying paint, rubbing it off, putting on some wax and completing the project.  There are so many talented folks out there who come to this craft with natural talent and make this process look so easy. I am not a naturally creative person.  I operate more from the side of your brain that uses numbers…abstract concepts are challenging for me.  But I am a focused, determined person who is willing to read, study up on something I find interesting.  Thank heavens for the blogosphere and Pinterest.  I have learned so much from so many people.  I especially appreciate all of the sharing from MissMustardseed , Christen at BlueEggBrownNest and Amanda at Reloved Rubbish.

With that being said, while snooping around the internet, I came across a wonderful video from Virginia Weathersby. She is painting a petite lady's vanity/desk using ASCP.  I have watched the video several times.  One of my first Craigslist purchases was a similar piece.

Sorry she looks a little odd!  I had already placed her on my workbench when I remembered to take a few “before” pictures.  By the way, whenever I can, I always start my projects with the item upside down.  I feel like you’ll be more thorough and see everything that needs your attention.  No taking short cuts!

She was old but in good shape.  I liked the idea of making a custom color, so I went with a 1:1 ratio of Duck Egg Blue to Paris Grey.  I then added Aubusson Blue until I got the shade of blue I had envisioned.  By the way, after I mix paints, I like to put a sample on a stir stick from the paint store with the “formula”.  It helps me remember what I did for future reference.  Also, if you are making a custom color, try to make enough to complete the project.  If you run short, it may cause some problems trying to get the new batch to match the original batch!  

I didn’t use any shellac on this piece.  She didn’t have a deep, dark stain to bleed through and the deeper color value of the blue mixture also gave me confidence there wouldn’t be any bleed through.  I worry when I’m using light colors like Old White…seems like I get bleed through with that color a lot!

I applied two quick coats on the entire piece and then a light coat of clear wax.  I distressed this piece with 220 grit sand paper after I applied the clear wax.  Distressing after wax gives more of a worn look as opposed to a chippy look.  I’m a very gentle distresser, as you’ll see from future projects.  I generally rub the edges of drawers and a few spots at rounded corners of tops and legs.  I have not used a hand sander to distress.  My philosophy is “ I’ll start the distressing and let the wear and tear from the new owner add to it!”  

Now that she has a coat of clear wax and some gentle distressing, I move to the next step.  This tip from Virginia Weathersby has been most helpful for me.  I mixed in clear wax, dark wax and a small bit of olive green to create a wax sludge!  I am very heavy handed when applying wax and haven’t had much luck with using the dark wax.  Making this mixture was so much easier for me to manipulate.  Hopefully you can see how the darker wax is accented around the edges of the drawers, dividers between the drawers, crevices in the turns of the legs.  

She deserves a little sparkle,don’t you think?  Out comes the Renaissance Gold wax to highlight her curves!  Just a very slight amount is all you need!  Keep the clear wax handy just in case you get a little heavy handed!

After some buffing , she is  ready to be adopted into a new family. 

I think this was another successful case of taking that which is old and breathing new life into it!

As it turns out, a very nice man bought her as a house warming gift for his wife.  What a good guy!  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Victorian Spindle Back Chairs

As I jump into this world of blogging, perhaps some background would be helpful.  How did I get started painting furniture?  After my mother-in-law passed away, we had a pair of old oak Victorian Spindle Back chairs that were too nice to toss, but too dated to sell.  We've all seen these types of chairs.  This wasn't the exact chair, but it gives you a good idea of what I was working with.

Hmmm, what could I do to enhance their value?  

After snooping around the internet, I start reading about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I’m just starting to read and learn about the paint when I get an out of the blue email from a life-long friend.  We don’t keep in touch on a regular basis…just occasional emails, 3-4 times a year. She has a solid pine bow front chest that I helped her purchase 25 years ago.  Her email reads “Remember this?  I am about to put an "Annie Sloan" paint job on it.  I'll send you a picture of the after.” 

OMG!  This is providential! Why am I receiving this email from her now, at this time in my life?  I'm supposed to paint something with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint!

We don’t have a local stockiest so I have to wait for the paint to come via UPS.  I get the starter kit with Old White, Duck Egg Blue and Paris Grey.  I figure the chairs are a small project and so I'll start with a coat of Old White.  Hmmm…boring. My early technique is very heavy handed so I have filled in all of the nooks and crannies.  You don’t get a feel for the intricate carving on the back of the chair.  So let’s add some Duck Egg Blue.  

A little distressing, some highlighting using the Old White in the crevices of the rungs, clear wax and they turned out okay! 

Here you can see the cane on the seat is painted in Old White.  In retrospect, I wish I left the cane the original natural color.

The moral of the story…you just never know when you wake up each day how something as small as an out of the blue email can change your life.  Thanks, Breeze!  I guess our passion for interiors still has a hold on both of us, and brings us together regardless of how many miles separate us!

But inquiring minds want to know...what did you do with the bow front chest?  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mahogany Rose Back Chairs turned Shabby Chic

     My first blog post ever!  Later on I’ll post more about who I am, how I got started in painting furniture, etc.  For now, I’d like to concentrate on the mistakes I have made with the hope I can spare others of the same time consuming missteps.  So let’s get started:

    We have all seen these Mahogany Rose Back chairs.  The intricate carving of the rose and leaf pattern, coupled with the delicate sloping legs makes these gals a tempting project.  Once they’re rehabbed and painted, they really do create the ultimate Shabby Chic design.  

    It makes sense to learn to use ASCP on a smaller, manageable project, right?  I know how to take off the seats, slap some paint on them, distress a little, add some new fabric, reattach and enjoy the fruits of my efforts!  

      So off come the seat cushions.  I’ll deal with those later.  I've read you don’t need to do anything before using ASCP, just start painting…but I’m old school.  I scuffed them up with 100 grit sand paper and wiped them down well to “clean” them.  Enter stage left, ASCP Old White.

    Sorry there are no pictures for the next horrifying steps…but after the first, second, third and fourth coat, I was befuddled.  I thought this stuff was supposed to cover really well.  Why do I continue to see areas of the red mahogany peeping through? What's up with that?  And to add insult to injury, I kept painting all four chairs.  Don’t they say a sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different outcome?

      FIRST LEARNING CURVE MISTAKE OF MY ASCP JOURNEY:  Use something to help block  the stain from bleeding  through. Here is a good explanation from the Purple Painted Lady: 

   This article helped talk me off of the ledge!  

     After some light sanding, I applied my new best friend, Zinsser Shellac right over the 4 coats of paint.  

   No more bleed through!  Hoorah!  I’ve only put in about 20 hours so far into these 4 chairs.

   The distressing and waxing were pretty straight forward.  I wasn’t going to dare using the dreaded dark wax, so now the frames are complete. 

   Let’s turn our attention to the seat cushions.  I’ll just remove the old fabric, add a little foam and poly dacron   and reupholster.  I failed to take pictures of the first 7 layers (yes, 7 layers!) that needed to be removed.  So you’re seeing layer #8, that ugly green, #9 red stripe and then #10 green stripe.

     My very kind hubby helped me peel off the fabric.  We had the football play offs on TV, and slowly pulled away a lot of staples and upholstery tacks.  What was I thinking…of course there would be multiple layers of fabric?  These chairs were at least 60 years old!  SECOND LEARNING CURVE MISTAKE, ANTICIPATE!

   I tack on the new fabric to the first seat cushion, and place it on the frame of the chair.  I’m so excited to see I am nearing the home stretch.  WRONG!  The seat cushion won’t fit into the frame of the chair.   What the heck?  I take off 10 layers, add two layers and this thing does not fit? 

   See how the tacky green cushion fits just fine but my newly reupholstered cushion won't squeeze into the frame?

    After regrouping, I scaled back the amount of poly Dacron that wrapped around the edges, pulled as tightly as I could while stapling, and finally finished the reupholstering.    Viola!  The finished chair: 

    I had a pretty 42” round maple table with scalloped apron that got the Zinsser treatment first, then 2 coats of ASCP and 4 coats of poly acrylic.  I envisioned this set would be used in an eat- in kitchen and thought the poly acrylic made more sense than wax.

   I am happy to report she was adopted by a lovely couple (Hi Michelle and Jason!)

   And this concludes my first blog post ever!  Stay tuned for more "learnings"! because I've had plenty of    them. :)