In case you missed the announcement – my project came in first place this round! Woohoo! Thank you to everyone who voted! And with all that news out of the way – are you ready to take a look at the housewarming gift I made my sister?
I stenciled the top of it with a dictionary definition of the word “home” – to always welcome her home. I considered going with a more traditional phrase or blessing, but we are both *huge* word-nerds, so the idea of just really embracing the word itself appealed to me.
This project was a lot of firsts for me – not just my first furniture project, but my first garage sale purchase as well (I’m not counting tagging along with my mom or my grandma as a kid – this is the first purchase since I’ve been out and on my own for *mumble* years). I found this beauty for $5… I hear that’s a steal. I was happy with it, anyway!
Okay, she’s not so beautiful… she has weird knobs, and that gold can only have come from the 70’s. But it was a really solid piece and I was so happy to finally rescue a piece of furniture and transform it.
There were a lot of ways I could have made it over. I originally wanted to go with a mossy green – but my sister’s style is really conservative, and because it was for her, I toned it down. I made up my own chalk paint and I have to say – I see what everyone is raving about!! This stuff is just awesome. I can’t compare it to the brand-name stuff because it’s the first time I ever worked with it, but I was very happy with the coverage and the finish, and I never had to prime this piece.
See that sample of the light brown color (it’s called au lait ole – fun, right)? That’s just a $3 sample size. I only used about half of it for the base coat and the stencil too – mixed with the plaster of paris you can see in that cup. So you don’t need to buy much at all. Even if you do, what you have will last for plenty of future projects, too.
When you work with chalk paint, you will also need to pick up furniture wax (my Lowe’s had a Minwax brand furniture wax), and even if you’re not planning to distress the piece, probably sandpaper too to smooth out the finish. I found that my brush strokes didn’t show much, but a light sanding did even it out really well.
I did quite a bit of reading up on how to approach a furniture overhaul before I got started, since this was all new to me, and I was pleased to read that it’s a simple process (and even more pleased to discover that those who claim it’s easy were telling the truth). I went with a lightly distressed style, using a darker base color than my main color.
First: remove all your hardware and cover your work surfaces (yes, I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve had so many projects where I thought I’d just be careful, and it ended up being far more work that just covering things up to begin with). You want to take the doors off/drawers out for this. Do wipe your piece down to get any dirt off. I also filled the holes, because I wanted to use knobs, but these were clearly drilled as handles, originally.
Paint your piece the base color. This is the color you want it to show only on the distressed part.
This next step I didn’t photograph because it doesn’t show up well, but once your base coat is dry, think about what areas you’re going to want to distress. Corners, edges – anything that might get worn over time. Get a rag (we have junk towels from the dollar store we use for stuff like this) and put a little furniture wax on it. I understand you can also just use a white candle like a big crayon, but I didn’t have a candle so I used what I had – and it worked beautifully.
Now, just paint your main color over the top of your base. The color I used was called cameo white. I got the smallest can from Lowe’s, the $10 size (what is that, a quart?) and fortunately I had already discovered from the sample size how far it goes, so I mixed up just a small quantity of chalk paint in that color.
I did find there were a few spots that needed a second coat, so I painted two coats of the white.
This next part you may not be able to see well – I ordered a custom stencil from my friend at Streamline Design. It worked fabulously! But the vinyl is clear, and I was starting to lose my light for the evening. I’m not sure there’s enough contrast for you to see it placed, but I’ll try anyway:
You may notice the little dots just to the outside of the text on the corners – I drew them on the vinyl myself. I was having trouble getting it properly centered when I couldn’t see it anymore once I set it in place, and the dots gave me a point of reference.
Then, I painted a light coat of my accent color on over the stencil. I was uneven about it on purpose – I wanted it to look slightly aged and worn. I let it dry, and peeled off the stencil. Then, I had to pick all the little “islands” out of the centers of my letters. It looks a little smudgy in a few places, but that’s just where I peeled too fast and more vinyl stuck. I was able to get all the little pieces off with a pin.
Then, I sanded the top down, and did a little distressing to the edges. Then, I rubbed the whole thing down with a good coat of furniture wax.
I drilled new holes and added new knobs. I found some gorgeous crackled brown glass knobs – for $8.50 each!! But I just couldn’t stomach the idea of spending $40 on hardware, when I had less than that into the whole project at that point (the total ended up being $42, and I have plenty of paint, plaster of paris, and wax for lots of makeover projects to come). So I settled for the basic knobs from Lowe’s for $1.49 instead. As lovely a touch as they would have made, it just wasn’t worth it, and working on a deadline for the competition meant I didn’t have the time to browse online for just the right thing, either. I actually considered spray painting the knobs I brought it home with instead, but I had to do some serious surgery to remove them in the first place, and the threads of one was pretty damaged. So, plain knobs it was.
Here’s how some of the details turned out:
And the fabulous top!
Overall – I am really happy with the way it turned out, and it sounds like my sister is happy too! First thing she did when she got it home was snap a photo and post it to Facebook. ;) I was happy not only to give her something she liked, but also to have made it personal and one-of-a-kind.
Thanks for stopping by to read about my stencil project, and thank you, thank you if you’ve been going out to vote for your favorites in the contest! As much as I have enjoyed these big projects… it’s back to Happy Hour again for a while around here!
I link up to these great parties!