Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Mess of Progress

Ever since I took a furniture refinishing class at Adourn in the fall, I have been dying to dive into the world of painting techniques and distressing- a nice change of pace from my constant task of trim painting.  BORING.  (And now I am horrified to realize I first posted about painting the trim in September and I am no where near being done!!!).  I got my feet wet a bit with a new bookcase Andy built for our bedroom.  Since the bookcase was built with unfinished wood, I was able to use a color wash technique.  Still, I have been impatient to get my hands on a vintage piece of furniture to try to update the look with paint.  My chance came early winter with a new job which meant more hours working from home.  After a week of working from my favorite arm chair in the living room with piles of paper and books piles up around me, I said ENOUGH !   I need a workstation downstairs.  After looking around the rooms on our first floor (our “office” is upstairs but I can’t work up there when the kids are up and they don’t sleep soundly enough to work up there during nap time) and contemplating several options (even moving around the dining room and kitchen tables several times), I determined the best option would be to put a secretary desk in the living room.  This would mean moving around some furniture in the living room, possibly getting rid of a few pieces but it was really the only feasible option.  I felt like a secretary desk was better than a small table and chair since the kiddos love to destroy any piece of paper they can get their hands on and the secretary desk would close up when not in use.

Decision made, Andy and I went on our hunt.  We checked out several antique stores in Minnesota with no luck- I always have found when you are looking for something specific while antiquing, you can never find it but you suddenly see tons of the item you were out looking for last time!  After a delicious lunch at a Mexican restaurant- randomly located on the main highway between two towns, we called it quits and took the kiddos back home for nap time.  In a last ditch effort, I decided to run to an “antique store” right down the road from us.  Really, it is set up in someone’s barn and mostly looks like random finds similar to what we have found in our outbuildings.  Shockingly enough though, I found 2 secretary desks right away that looked great.  After messaging Andy pictures and descriptions, I made my choice and talked the owner down a bit for a final price.
Desk Before

Desk Before
Once I got the desk home, Andy immediately took it to the shop for some repair.  He tightened up all joints, sanded down everything and more importantly rebuilt the drop-down desk component with a long piano hinge and chain supports.  Since Andy had already sanded down the piece, I gave it a really good dusting to prep it for painting.  The paint color I chose for the outside was Simply Silhouet by Behr which is one shade darker from the paint color Puddle which is the adjoining room to the living room.  I did a paint match with Glidden paint since I can't get Behr within an hour drive of our house.  I have had great success with paint matching but this time the color was not what I expected, though I luckily liked it anyway.  I coated the entire outside (with the exception of the very top) with two coats of paint, using a 2 1/2” angle brush.  I painted with the grain of the wood, working hard to using long strokes to not see the brush strokes.  

After the outside was dry, I painted the inside working surfaces with two coats of Redstone Dakota Sandstone by Valspar (I picked up a sample size jar when visiting my sister in Kansas City).  I did not paint the vertical surfaces in the inside, choosing to leave them natural. 

Finally, I wanted to add some character to the inside so I chose a fantastic wrapping paper print from The Container Store.  (No- we don't have a Container Store anywhere close- my mom picked the rolls up for me in Illinois!)

The wrapping paper at The Container Store is very heavy-duty with a matte finish.  I measured all the surfaces I wanted the paper on (the insides of the doors and the shelf area in the desk part) and marked the backside of the paper.  Using a rotary cutter from my quilting supplies, I cut the paper.  Using an all-purpose adhesive spray, I attached the paper to each surface.  

The adhesive oversprays quite a bit, so I used cardboard and painters tape to not get spray where I didn't want it.  

The hardest part was making sure the paper was straight and arranged right before I applied it to the service.  
(Andy was amused how stressed out I got during this part).  Thankfully, I didn't make any mistakes and it turned out perfectly.  On the inside of the doors, which were not dimensionally square, any places the paper went off the door I used an Exact-o knife to cut the excess.

Unfortunately, after all this work the next day I noticed the paper was not sticking in some places.  I’m not sure if I used the wrong adhesive or didn't apply it correctly but it definitely needed to be fixed.  Instead of messing with the spray adhesive again, I got heavy-duty double stick tape (the kind you use for framing which is acid-free) and used it in places the paper was coming up.  

This worked fine and I think in the future, I will just use this method first.

I decided to leave the top of the desk natural wood since I liked the contrast of the wood with the paint.  I sealed the wood with wax to give it a nice finish.  I also distressed the outside edges of the desk slightly with 100 grit sandpaper to give it more of a “lived in look”.

Finally, I replaced the handles with a set I found at Hobby Lobby.  I’m not totally satisfied with how they look but am going to leave it for now.  I’m still considering doing a stencil on the outside somewhere but haven’t found one I am in love with.  So for now, it is finished!  It has been working great as my workstation and I love that I can just close it up with I am done- hiding the “mess” of progress.
Are you ready to take some furniture rehab?  I highly recommend it!

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