Oct 15, 2013

Furniture Transformation (Finally!)

I am finally getting this posted - sorry for the delay! 

Unfortunately, we had to move my grandma into a nursing home in April. We thought she might be able to recover and return home, but by June we realized that wasn't going to happen. So I went home and helped my mom and family move everything, sell stuff, and clean up. She had this awesome little desk that was too cute not to take home.

The before picture. Cute little desk with the perfect amount of storage and table top space, but still small enough to include in my main living area.

I did a LOT of research before tackling this transformation. I looked at 30+ blogs reading tutorial after tutorial on how to "antique" furniture. How to "distress" it. How to make it look "designer." How to make it look "shabby chic." 

But in all honesty, I didn't know what I wanted. My first floor is one great room that morphs into the kitchen. Couches are off white, other furniture is black, and appliances are stainless. Would an antique/distressed/shabby chic go with that? After all of the research I decided to just wing it. 

It had a strange finish to it . . . almost looked like a laminate finish, but was clearly made of wood. And it had some sort of clear coat on top of everything. This thing was definitely going to need some sanding. 

I started off with the hand held sander, but that wasn't going anywhere quickly. I then got the coarsest sandpaper I could find and wrapped it around a piece of wood (a little trick I learned long ago that really helps reduce the soreness in your hand). 
Not the desk I was sanding - just a shot of how I use a piece of wood to wrap the sandpaper around.

After sanding for about 2 hours, everything was thoroughly scuffed up and dusty. It's always important to wipe everything down with a damp rag or tack cloth after sanding - don't want any dust particles under your paint or finish.

Then came the actual "transformation" process. I decided to use ceiling paint, because I didn't want this piece to be shiny. And I had been researching the "shabby chic" and "antique" look so I was pretty convinced I wanted it to be white. I did this with the thought that if it was horrible I could always go back and change it.

I don't have any pictures of me actually doing the painting - I'm new at this and it didn't even occur to me until I started writing this post that I would need pictures of the process. I will let you know what I did though. . . . I took a wide brush in my left hand (dominate hand) and dipped that LIGHTLY in the paint. I then brushed it across the wood WITH the grain. Then I took another wide brush in my right hand and kept it dry. Again, going with the grain of the wood, I used that to brush over the damp paint and make the paint spread around more, and making the layer of paint lighter. 

I used the old "chip brush" on the right to create paint lines and texture.

Let me tell you how much there was to paint on that thing! I had to do inside a little bit of all of the openings, and the chair with all off the little brace pieces of wood was a pain, but well worth it. After I got everything covered with one coat, I took a break and went inside the AC and enjoyed a cold beer. I had to let it dry right?!

About an hour later I took a look and I was in LOVE
This is the final result - not just after one coat, because (again) I didn't take pictures of the whole process.

So, after one coat I was happy with how that natural brown came through in a muted way. But, if I scratched it with my fingernail, the paint came off. And seeing as how this was going to be a work desk and would get some use, I needed to protect it. So back to the computer I went, and I discovered this: 
It worked perfectly, and I only used a little, so as long as I store this correctly I will have a lifetime supply. 

I didn't use much - just put a thin layer of this clear coat over everything. It didn't shine it up too much, and it really didn't take away from the effect i was going for. 

Then, as I was staring at the chair for another LONG time covering every square inch, I was wondering if I should make some of the areas look more "worn." I was specifically thinking the back of the chair where you would grab it to pull it out and push it in should look more worn. Along came some more experimentation.

I grabbed anything that might take some of the paint and shine away, but not destroy what I had done. I knew even superfine sand paper would destroy it too much. I started with a piece of raw wood - rubbing it along everything. And then as I was digging through my pile of stuff, I found the perfect tool - steel wool. You MUST wear gloves when using steel wool - you can get some serious metal splinters with that stuff! But, it did exactly what I wanted it to do. And after I did the back of the chair, I did it to all of the edges of the desk and chair - to make it look worn. 
In my opinion this is perfectly randomly worn.

I spray painted the knobs silver and let that dry. Then I gave them a coat of the white ceiling paint and let that dry. Used the steel wool to bring out some of the sliver below the white. Then I gave it a clear coat. Worked much better than I anticipated. 

I tried for over an hour to create a cute collage with 4 pictures, but I couldn't get anything to work. I'll add that to the list of things to figure out. 

So in the end, it turned out fantastic. And this past weekend my mom and I did some shopping and I found some cute accessories to add to it. Once I get everything put where I want it, I will take some more pictures. 

My advice? Try new things - experiment - think outside of the box. I seriously did this without any hard core plan (very unlike me) and this is one of my favorite things I've transformed so far! 

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