Monday, November 24, 2014

A New Trick For Your Sleeve

Meet your new secret weapon: The brown paper lunch sack!


I mean it, this is one of the "tools" I cannot live without! Use it between coats of paint, stain, or sealer (or all of them), to create a silky smooth finish. No brush strokes! Just rub vigorously, like you wold with sand paper, without risk of damaging your finish. Give it a try!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How To Paint Laminate Furniture

"Can I paint laminate furniture?" 
I get this question a lot. The answer is yes. You can paint anything you want. Will it last, though? That all depends on whether it is done properly.  Before I take this post any further, I want to add a disclosure: I am in no way claiming to be an expert! I am just a girl who likes to refinish furniture, and I have learned a thing or two from experience. This is how I  paint laminate furniture. This method has worked for me, and it has withstood the abuse of my three children. There are many products and techniques out there. There will be others who do it differently. I am merely sharing my experience with you.

Now, let's get to it. Let's start by talking about what Laminate is. I don't love laminate. In fact, I try to avoid it, because I prefer solid wood furniture. I do work with it once in a while, and I do have one very well used laminate piece in my family room. It's a dresser turned TV console, and it is filled with toys. You better believe it gets used! 


Laminate is made of printed sheets, often a wood-grain design, adhered to a durable core material. The surfaces resist scratches and stains, making them ideal for high-traffic areas, and it's cheap. It is often shiny, and it is very smooth. The exact reasons why laminate is/was appealing in the first place, are the same reasons it is hard to paint. There is no texture for the paint to stick to, and it is made to repel things, even paint.


Not every laminate finish is the same. With any piece of furniture you refinish, you may run into unique obstacles. This post is a general step by step of how I USUALLY paint laminate furniture. Sometimes, the process needs to be tweaked a bit if the piece is being difficult. If you run into a unique obstacle on your project, shoot me an email, or comment, and I'll do my best to help you out!


Step 1: Clean your piece thoroughly using a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. There are harsher chemicals you can use, but I have come to prefer natural, non-toxic methods. Vinegar will cut grease and oils, which will prevent your paint from sticking.

Step 2: Sand and repair. We are just talking about a light sanding to scuff up your finish, and give your piece some tooth. This will give your paint something to grab on to. (Note: Chalk paints claim that you do not need to sand. They are designed to adhere to anything. Many people do not sand. I ALWAYS err on the side of caution, and there is no such thing as too much prep. You will only regret the work you do not put in, if your new finish does not hold up.) If there is any major damage to your piece, you can repair it with wood filler or bondo, or something of that nature. I like to use a product called Texture, by Shabby Paints. As you can see on the photo above, we did some restructuring on this piece, to make it into a corner unit, with open shelving, and the spots on the top are repairs. 


Step 3: Clean again. Make sure there is no left over dust. Again, dirt and grime will prevent your paint from sticking.


Step 4: Prime with some sort of Shellac based primer. Your choice. I often like to spray my piece with clear Shellac ( I prefer Zinsser Bullseye). It's easy, and it doesn't change the color if I want the original tone to show through after distressing. You may want to use a white m primer if you are painting light, or a grey primer if you are painting dark. As long as you prime. A shellac based primer will seal the piece from any bleed through, and also block it's ability to repel your paint. (Again, there are people who swear this is not necessary, and you may have success without, but I say better safe than sorry.) One other benefit of clear shellac, is that if you get a coat of paint on, and you find you are having bleed through, you can always spray another coat of shellac in between paint coats, and not have wasted the paint you already used. 


Step 5: Paint. I prefer chalk paint, especially on laminate. As I noted before, it is designed to adhere to everything. It really does adhere better. When I say chalk paint, I mean any boutique brand you want to use, just not home made chalk paint, or any of the chalk dusts you mix with latex paint. I have not used any of those, so I do not recommend them. I have used, and would recommend Annie Sloan, Shabby Paints, Rethunk Junk Paints, and Fairy Chalkmother's paints. All of these are good. (Note: Mixing latex paint with chalk dust of any kind, is still latex paint, and must be prepped accordingly.)


Step 6: Distress, glaze, any special finish you want to do. (If you are doing some sort of a glaze, make sure you follow directions. Depending on the product, it may be meant to use after a coat of sealer and not before.)

Step 7: Seal. Always seal. Use whatever sealer you prefer. Some people love wax, some people love poly. I love my favorite sealer Vax, by Shabby Paints. You can do some research and decide what best meets your needs. Keep in mind that if you have painted a light color, like white, polyurethane will yellow over time. In this instance, you would want to use a water based polycrilic. The number of coats for me, depends on the piece itself, and the use it will get. Generally, on a tabletop, I use 3 coats of sealer. On legs, I may use one or two. I always use Vax, and my pieces have held up beautifully. 


I hope this helps! Feel free to comment or email me with questions. Painting laminate is a great way to update a tired piece, that may otherwise be thrown away.  Here is the after of my laminate dresser turned TV stand. The photos aren't great, but you can tell it was a dramatic transformation. People are always shocked when I tell them it was laminate!


This particular piece was painted all over with French Linen, by Annie Sloan, then I applied Java Gel Stain, by General Finishes to the top. I sealed the entire piece with Vax, by Shabby Paints, and antiqued it with Hazelnut Revax, by Shabby Paints. I used one coat of sealer on the whole thing, and three coats of sealer on the top. It is filled with toys, and it is abused daily, but it still looks great!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stay Tuned

Since I have started sharing my furniture projects more, I get a lot of questions about how to use certain products, what surfaces can be painted or refinished, and what products I would advise people to use. Because of this I've decided to do a series of posts for the next little while that talk about finishing different types of materials, and also some product reviews. There are thousands of products out there, and I cannot do them all, but if there is something you'd like to see here, let me know! You can comment on this post with your questions, or shoot me an email. I will be starting this weekend with the question I get the most: "Can I paint laminate furniture?" 

Stay tuned!

Another Beautiful Secretary

Sometimes I get a hold of really ugly pieces, and I make them beautiful, and sometimes I get a great deal on an already beautiful piece, that just needs a little bit of love.

I am so sad that I lost my before shot of this piece. She came to me with so much original character. Sure, she was banged up pretty good, and had not been well taken care of, but her details were gorgeous, and I could not cover them up! Instead, I chose to highlight them, by painting the majority of the piece in Shabby Paints, Licorice. Look how it showcases that medallion!  I did not do any repair to the spots I left natural, but I did add a new protective seal to them, so that they would not become any more beat up. I think the dings and scratches that are left just add to the character. I know the new owner loves her as much as I do!








Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When Rustic Meets Shabby Chic


Check out these uglies! Apparently, they were so ugly, that the previous owner couldn't even unload them at a yard sale. I saw their potential immediately, and offered a price that I felt was fair, and viola! Ugly garage picture! You might think that I purposely take the worst garage pictures so that my before shots look as bad as possible, but really, my garage just always looks bad, because I can't stop buying furniture.

I wish I had taken better before pictures. It was like the previous owners had taken some very basic, rustic furniture, and tried to dress it up. They had glued some trim across the front of the nightstands, and there were lion head knobs randomly screwed in on the outsides of the drawers. They had changed some of the hardware, but never filled any holes. It was interesting!





I can tell you, that it didn't take much for me to make these beasts into beauties! I sanded them, filled some holes, and added some gorgeous applique back plates to go behind their new knobs. I painted the drawers, and main bodies in Rethunk Junk's Grey Mist, and I used the wipe on method with General Finishes Java Gel Stain for the tops. Then I distressed to my heart's desire, and sealed the entire thing with Sheer Vax, by Shabby Paints.

I must admit, I was sad to let these babies go. I LOVE them! I wanted to keep them, but alas, I feel that way about almost every piece of furniture that comes into my life, and my house is just not that big!





I'm still waiting for pictures of them in their new home:)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

French Provincial Dining Table

I am going to admit something here. Dining Tables are my very least favorite project! By far! This one was the worst! I get fired up even thinking about it, so I won't go into detail, let's just say that I'm glad it's done. Eventually it did turn out to be beautiful, and the cute lady who bought it even sent me pictures of it in her home. I LOVE seeing what happens to my projects when they leave me! So here's the before... (Well, sort of. This is after HOURS of sanding off the photo finish, because I was going to use a light stain to show off that fancy grain.)
Now let me just say this. I will NEVER again do a dining table that has parquet grain. It was the root of MANY problems on this project. So, I will just tell you that I painted the skirt and the legs in Duck Egg Blue, by Annie Sloan, and I dry brushed some Coco by Annie Sloan, and distressed. Then I sealed with my favorite sealer, Shabby Paints Vax,  and glazed with Hazelnut Revax. I ended up with a beautiful aged look.
Eventually, after fighting with the top for a few weeks, I ended up deciding to just stain the top with General Finishes Java Gel Stain, using the brush on method for full coverage. Usually, even if I use gel stain, I opt for the wipe on method, because I like to keep the grain, but this table was the exception, and not the rule for me. Maybe someday when it is not so fresh, I'll share some of the in between photos of this table top. Right now, I just want to forget! After giving my gel stain 48 hours to cure, I sealed it with 3 coats of sealer for durability.

Here is the finished product.


And here it is pictured in the happy customer's home. She said this is the 4th table she's bought since moving into her new home, and she finally loves this one in her space! What a compliment!



Monday, November 10, 2014

Trick For Hand Painting Unique Art!

So, you're not an artist, but you want a unique piece of art in your home? I have just the trick for you! I myself have been struggling with decorating my family room for quite sometime. I have big plans for the future, but in the meantime, it has been pretty much a blank slate. BORING!!! It was beginning to drive me crazy, and I didn't want to spend time in there.
Pardon my little photo bomber and his show:)

I needed something on the walls, but I couldn't find anything I liked. I also wanted something that I would still like when I finally get my new flooring, and my board and batten up on the walls, so I didn't want to get too much just in case. Just something. Something good. I have wanted to do some sort of pallet art for quite some time too, but I didn't want the same ones everybody else has, and i wanted to bring out some color. So here's what I did...

First of all, I cheated! I have three million projects in my garage. Many of them are for me to earn some income, and those tend to come before my own personal projects. I wanted to get this done fast, and I didn't have time to build my board. I found someone on a local FB site to build my board for me for $30. If you want to build your own, it is pretty simple. Mine is 5 planks cut to the length I requested, and held together by 3 vertical braces on the back. I snapped a quick picture of the back as an after thought, but I got a little too excited to paint, and didn't get a real before picture, so here's the closest I got. Oops!


I chose 5 different colors (one for each plank), and tried to pull from the pillows on my couches.  For this project I used Rethunk Junk Paints. I applied each color in a wash technique, which means a little paint mixed with a lot of water. This makes it seep into the wood more like a colored stain, so you can still see the wood grain. The colors I used were (top to bottom): Lily Pad, Flamingo (mixed with some tangerine acrylic craft paint to make a coral), Peacock Feather, Burlap, and Sunflower.


After my paint was dry, I sanded a bit so that some of the natural wood was showing through.

Next, I rubbed one of my favorite products, Hazelnut ReVax, by Shabby Paints over top. You could use a conventional stain, but this is better because it's odor free, non toxic, and it is a stain and sealer in one, so it can be a last step. I did 2 coats, and called it a day. You can only do 2 coats of Vax, or Revax in a 24 hour period, and I had more work to do.


This was the hard part. I really liked the designs I had seen with Love Birds, especially the ones with bird families. I could only find images with up to 4 birds though, and I wanted 5 to match my family of 5. I found a quote that I thought was great for a family room, and I created my own image digitally in paint.net. Paint.net is a free program, that is mildly comparable to Photoshop. I use it for most all of my digital design needs, and free is always good in my book! Once I was happy with my unique image, I had it printed the same size as my board at Office Max. It cost me a little over $6


I taped it onto my board, and then I used a ball point pen to trace over the image, pushing HARD. I only did the branch and the birds the first day, because my hand was tired. If you click on the picture, and look closely you can see the indents I ended up with.


Then I got out my artist brush, and my Buffalo Brown Shabby Paint, and tried my best to stay in the lines. I needed two coats on all of it, and that was it for that day.


The next morning, I traced the letters, and did the same. I used Shabby Paints Vanilla Bear for the lighter words, and I had to take breaks in between, and jump around a lot so I was never messing up my wet paint. When I was all done, and my paint was dry, I did one last coat of Hazelnut Revax and Viola! A completely unique piece of art, created by yours truly. I was pretty proud. I kind of couldn't believe I painted it myself. If I can do it, so can you!


After hanging this on the wall, and also adding some curtains, my family room feels much more cozy! I love it! Now I just have to be patient until I can really tackle this room!

(Always a cartoon and a photo bomber!)