How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil

When I agreed to make one of those super-cool flags out of an old pallet for my friend, Sam, I knew I was going to need a stencil in the shape of a star. I also knew the chances of me finding one the perfect size and shape for my project were pretty much zero. So I got creative and made one myself for free. Here’s how.

The first step is to go to Google Images or another search engine, and find a shape of whatever you’re looking for. I decided for the flag pallet I wanted a classic, simple star shape. I found one I liked, and then copied and pasted it to an open page so I could edit it.

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I played with the cropping until I got the star the size I wanted, and printed it. Or not. I was highly disappointed when I went to my printer, only to discover it spit out a blank piece of paper. But where there’a a will, there’s a way.

Since I was too impatient to start my search for another star on another site, I decided to trace the image right off my computer screen by covering the star with a post-it note. The outline showed through the paper beautifully.

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I ever-so-gently traced the star with an ink pen. You could also use a pencil, but I would caution against a felt-tip pen or sharpie since the ink could bleed through onto your computer screen. Now that would be very bad.

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I went into my recycle bin, and found some light-weight cardboard. (Gotta love Pop Tarts.) A soft-drink carton or cereal box would work too.

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then cut around the star with a sharp craft knife, being sure to press hard enough to cut all the way through the cardboard underneath. Be sure to protect your table so you don’t cut into it. That would be bad too.

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then you remove the cut-out from your cardboard.

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And there’s the stencil! (This picture is of the back side of the Pop Tart box.)

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Make a Simple Custom Stencil / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is a great way to create a custom stencil that’s specific to your project. The internet has many shapes that can be copied. And since stenciling requires a relatively dry brush, the cardboard will last a very long time. I’ve had stencils I’ve made for past projects that were literally used hundreds of times. Happy stenciling!

(If you would like to see how you can make your own flag pallet, click here.)

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

American Flag Pallet

When my friend, Sam asked if I would make her an American Flag pallet, I was happy to comply. Not only because she’s been my friend since kindergarten, but also because of what she’s been through personally.

Sam’s son, LCPL Retired Jared Poppe, lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan on June 7, 2011 at the age of 21. He deserves more recognition for his incredible sacrifice than I can possibly give him here, as does Sam for all she went through as a military mom who nearly lost her son. Nonetheless, I would like to dedicate this post to Jared, to Sam and to all of our dedicated troops and their families.

Here’s Jared after recovering from his injuries.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Needless to say, this project is a very special one.

If you’ve spent any time on Facebook or Pinterest, you’ve probably seen a host of creative uses for old pallets. I’ll be the first to admit this fabulous idea isn’t mine, but I’d like to share my version of a flag pallet anyway. Here it is…

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Fortunately, I have access to an endless supply of pallets that are headed for the dumpster because of my job as a painter. You pallet-loving DIYers may be thinking, “Boy she’s lucky to have super-duper access to all those pallets! She could make tons of flags, sell them and become a millionaire.” Negative.

It’s not easy to find a pallet that has slats running in the right direction for the flag stripes, and many of the pallets are too big to fit in my little 1994 Maxima work-mobile (a.k.a. Maxine). Guess I won’t be rich any time soon.

After days of keeping an eye on the mounting stacks of pallets, I found a nearly-perfect one. Maxine could handle it, and the slats were running the right direction! (Hear angels singing, “Hallelujah”.)

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It was a little bit too square for a flag shape, so I decided to cut some slats off the bottom to make it more rectangular. Sam suggested cutting off two of the slats so it would have seven red stripes like an actual flag. Kudos to you, Sam for being politically correct with our flag. Removing two slats was perfect.

I didn’t like the idea of having gaps between the slats, so I recycled the slats I removed from the bottom by cutting them to fit behind the spaces. Since I didn’t have enough wood for all the gaps, I used some baseboard I found curbside.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s where the cut slats were going to be placed. This is the back of the pallet.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since the flag was going to be heavily distressed, it didn’t require a persnickety paint job, and the edges of the cut up boards didn’t need to be painted because they weren’t going to show.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I painted the edges of the slats white.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then the red paint went on the face only of the pallet slats. Again, I didn’t put the paint on heavily, and left some of the rough areas without paint on them.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here you can see the white edges of the red slats.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is what it looked like after removing the tape.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next came the blue. The colors were bright at first, but I toned them down later with a coating of stain.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I made my own stencil using a star shape I found on the internet (see how to make a custom stencil here).

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I sanded some of the white paint off the slats that were cut to fit the back of the pallet, and applied stain to age them.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the white slats were distressed, I flipped the pallet over and screwed them on the back to cover the gaps.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I covered the rest of the flag with a walnut stain to further distress it after removing bits of paint here and there with sandpaper. I also stained the sides of the palette to make it look more finished.

I liked the idea of having both red and white stripes, rather than just red stripes and open spaces.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And there you have it!

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The paint colors were all from Sherwin Williams; Agreeable Gray (for the white), Fired Brick (for the red) and Downpour (for the blue).

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once again, a heartfelt thank you to Jared, and to the countless men and women who serve this country.

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

American Flag Pallet / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

How to Age a Wicker Basket

If you’re a basket lover, you’ve probably lost that lovin’ feeling for some of your baskets. You know the ones. Those baskets you stuck on a shelf in the basement or tucked away in a closet a few years back. Even baskets can become dated–most often because of the color. Aging a basket with inexpensive craft paints is an easy way to revive your waning basket relationship.

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found this basket at a local thrift shop, and loved it because of the unique galvanized bottom. Our local Mission Mart uses its proceeds to help the homeless in our community–all the more reason to shop there! Here’s what the $3.00 basket looked like originally.

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

You’ll need three different colors of paint–dark brown, gray and tan, as well as an inexpensive chip brush or stenciling brush.

I began by painting the basket sparingly with an Americana paint color called Raw Umber, which is a very dark brown. I wasn’t concerned with getting in all the nooks and crannies.

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I coated the basket with a color called April Showers by Accent, a light to medium gray, still not worrying too much about getting into every crack.

 How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Believe it or not, I didn’t have the paint the color I wanted for the third coat in all this mess.

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Fortunately, I have many wall paint samples, and found one I liked called Hopsack from Sherwin Williams. It’s a darker tan color as you can see by the photo. Exact colors aren’t really an issue here, so I say use whatever you have on hand. I made an attempt to get into all the cracks on this final coat of paint.

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now the fun begins! Since I re-coated with minimal drying time in between coats (just dry to the touch), I took a slightly damp rag, and rubbed until all four of the different colors showed through–the original rust color, dark brown, gray and tan. The more colors that show through, the more depth and interest your basket will have.

 How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

Finally, to really age the basket and make it look worn and loved, I took the Raw Umber paint that I used on the first coat, and dry brushed over the entire basket. This project didn’t take any time at all. And here are my before and afters. Ooo, la, la! I love the distressed look.

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Age a Wicker Basket / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The good news here is that if you don’t like how your basket turns out, you can just keep painting, adding new colors and rubbing and dry brushing until you get the look you like. I’m hoping people in my area who were planning to sell baskets at their garage sales this summer won’t see this post!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze

This post demonstrates how to achieve a medium to heavily distressed patina on a piece of furniture using homemade glaze. If this is a look you like, it’s not all that difficult to achieve.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

There are a handful of steps that need to be taken in order to get the depth and character of an old piece of furniture, but if you want to take the easy way with less distressing and no glazing, refer to my post, “How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way“. My piece was already painted a bright white when I purchased it several years ago at our ‘Third Sunday Market’ antique show here in Central Illinois.

The dealer I purchased it from told me the wardrobe was a new piece that was built to include an antique door and an antique decorative cornice. So the bulk of the piece was new, and was built around those two beautiful old pieces. Authenticity isn’t a priority for me. I’m more interested in pieces that I think are beautiful and functional, and this wardrobe was just what I was looking for. Here’s a before photo.

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

What I did to start the process was make a trip to the garage to find items that would make interesting dings and dents in the wardrobe. I took these items, and lightly pounded them into the surface with a hammer. Old pieces of furniture are not going to have nice smooth surfaces, after all. Here’s what I came up with.

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I sanded areas that would naturally wear and lose their paint over time—areas that protrude like edges and corners, as well as areas near knobs. I usually hand sand with sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood for distressing. But after I purchased this piece, I painted it with exterior paint since I originally purchased it for a screened porch. Since exterior paint is more resilient than interior paint, I decided to bring out the heavy artillery, and used my new electric sander. I used a coarse, 60-grit sandpaper to sand through the paint to reveal the bare wood underneath. Here’s an example of the types of areas I sanded.

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The sanded areas on the antique door showed through the white paint as black, and the sanded areas on the newer wood, barely showed. The bulk of the cabinet was made from pine, which is a light-colored wood.
Here’s a picture of the dark wood showing through on the door.

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to match the sanded areas on the newer wood to the darker sanded areas on the old wood. Fortunately, I have quite the stash of stain and paint colors to choose from to make that happen. I used an ebony (a.k.a. black) stain on a rag to lightly go over the sanded areas on the new wood to make them match the sanded areas on the old wood. I used a small amount of stain, trying my best to only hit the sanded areas, and then wiped it off right away. After applying the stain, all of the sanded areas matched. Mission accomplished.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then, using 200-grit sandpaper, I lightly sanded the entire piece to get rid of any scratches left from the coarse grit sandpaper, and to lightly roughen up the paint so the glaze I was going to use next, would adhere better.

I made my own glaze with some medium brown paint (Hopsack #6109 from Sherwin Williams) that I had on hand, mixed with Floetrol. Any medium-brown color that you have will do. If you don’t have any medium-brown paint on hand, the cheapest way to go is to head to your local craft store, and pick up a 2 oz. bottle of acrylic paint. They usually run around $2.00 a bottle, and 2 oz. will be more than enough to glaze a piece of furniture.

I would say I used roughly 2 or 3 parts Floetrol to one part paint. I would normally use a dark brown paint for glazing, but since the wardrobe was bright white, I felt I would get a better result if I layered a couple of different colors of glaze to tone down the amount of contrast.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’m not entirely sure of what sizes of containers Floetrol comes in, but you certainly don’t need this much to do a piece of furniture. If it comes in a quart, that would be plenty. I just bought a ginormous one because I needed it to faux finish a room, and I knew I’d be using it for other projects as well.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I applied the glaze with a chip brush (pictured above), lightly brushing most of the piece. I was wiping some areas off, while reapplying in other areas for an uneven look. This is very subjective as far as how heavy to glaze, and what areas to make darker than others. To each, his own as they say.

Here’s a photo after the first coat of glaze. I let this dry overnight before applying the darker glaze over the top of the first coat. If the first coat of glaze isn’t completely dry, it can rub off when you apply the second one.

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To add more of a patina, I take my chisel and chip off more paint in some areas.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The next morning, I applied the second coat of glaze—the one that brings the piece to life. This time, decided to go the “dirty water” method of glazing rather than mix a Floetrol glaze. I used some dark brown acrylic craft paint (Asphaltum) mixed with water–more water than paint–to finish the project. If you don’t want to buy Floetrol, you can just try this method. I’ve done entire pieces with a paint/water mix. Floetrol slides a little better, and is more forgiving ratio-wise, but the end result looks the same. You may have to experiment a little bit more with your paint to water ratio to get it right.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This time, I used an artist’s brush to get in the tiny groves of the crown molding, and the detailed areas on the cornice. I applied the paint-water mix to these areas, and then very lightly wiped over them with a cotton rag being sure to leave paint in the grooves. I also brushed over some of my dents an dings, making sure the paint stuck in those areas.

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After hitting the detailed areas, I put small amounts of the dirty water on the tips only of the bristles of my chip brush, and brushed select areas of the wardrobe. I brushed the edges of individual boards, the places where two different boards met, the ends of the crown molding, the door panel edges, around the hinges and door clasp and the edges of the cornice. I brushed with the “grain” being careful not to leave brush strokes.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The second, darker glaze adds dimension to the distressing, accentuates the details and brings the piece to life.

Here are some progressive photos showing the original piece, after sanding, after staining the sanded areas, after the first coat of glaze and after the final coat of glaze.

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In case you’re wondering, this wardrobe isn’t going to stay in the middle of the bathroom floor! It has a nice spot back in the corner of the room, but this was the only way to get a photo of it without the vanity blocking it. And I must admit to being too lazy to empty all the junk out of it, and man-handle it into another room for a couple of photos. This is only a blog after all, and not Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Distress Furniture with Homemade Glaze / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I liked this wardrobe with the original crisp white paint, but when I painted the bathroom a dark blue/green color, the white paint was too glaring. I also believe furniture with a beautiful patina adds warmth and sophistication to a room. And lastly, I just needed a change. I love my new, old piece of furniture!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way

There are oak-lovers out there who are not going to appreciate this post, but I just couldn’t stand it any longer.

I have an oak reproduction wardrobe in my master bedroom that was purchased in the mid-80’s that I really struggle to look at these days. I lug this monstrosity with me every time I move, and it’s this piece of furniture that is always the “dreaded one” on moving day. I could never bring myself to get rid of it though, because it’s such a useful, well-made piece of furniture, and it was pricey back in the day. In the midst of this love-hate relationship, I’ve been agonizing over whether or not to paint it.

Although it’s not an antique, it is oak, and they say you should never paint over oak. Tell an older person you’re going to paint a piece of oak furniture, and you’re likely to hear a gasp followed by the crack of a cane on your noggin. When the idea first occurred to me, I must admit I experienced a small gasp myself, and it took me another five years post-gasp to go for it. As I myself age, I’m coming to the realization that I shouldn’t let the decorating etiquette of others stifle my creativity. Yolo, as my kids would say.

Wardrobes in small spaces are a fantastic way to climb the walls for storage without taking up valuable floor space. I have a small house, and have a wardrobe in nearly every area—even a bathroom. Until my son moved out recently and took one, I had a total of six of those babies. I’m here to tell you that’s a lot of super-duper space-saving storage. Three of those were actually entertainment centers that I gutted and put shelves in to be used for clothes, linens, etc… Needless to say, this isn’t my first rodeo painting a wardrobe.

Moving along, this post is to show how to paint and distress furniture the simple way. No glaze, no special top coat, no waxing, just a simple, basic method of aging. I did this project start to finish in one day, and holy smokes, what a difference a day makes!

Note: If you prefer a heavier distressed look, click here to see how to get that look using a home made glaze.

I had a hard time making a color choice, but ultimately decided on a simple off-white. I used Duck White #1070 from Sherwin Williams in a satin finish because this is a color that I used to stripe an accent wall in my bedroom where I’ll be using the wardrobe. I chose a satin finish because I knew a semi-gloss would accentuate the grain, and I felt too much sheen wouldn’t be appropriate on a piece that’s supposed to be old and worn-looking.

Here are the before pictures. I almost can’t handle looking at them because all that grain floating all over the place gives me a headache. But as you can see, it is a beautiful piece of furniture.

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Let’s get right down to it. Step one is to remove all the hardware, and remove the doors and drawers. When removing doors, you’ll want to remove the top hinge last. If you remove the top hinge first, the door will slip and crack you in the head (like the cane, only worse) while you’re trying to remove the bottom hinge. Then you’ll be wondering why you didn’t listen to me.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A helpful tip is to put all the screws and hardware into a container with a lid—especially if you have pets or kids in the area. More good advice.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next you’ll need to sand the entire piece to rough it up so your paint will have better adhesion. This is especially important because I prefer not to use primer on pieces that I’m going to distress. This is a no-primer project not only because it’s going to be distressed anyway, but also because it’s going to be in my master bedroom which is a low-traffic area. No drinking glasses, no “scratchy” objects and no feet will ever rest upon this wardrobe.

I decided to use a brush to paint this piece of furniture instead of a roller since the grain was so heavy. Brushing helps get into those tiny, irritating divots. I have filled grain prior to painting before, but I knew on this piece it wasn’t going to be an issue for me so I didn’t take the time to do it. If grain bothers you, and you want advice on how to hide it, you can refer to my post, “Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets”. Make no mistake–the grain will show on painted oak furniture–much less on darker colors, but it does show. But again, since I’m distressing I don’t care about the grain. Distressed furniture is imperfect furniture.

Here’s the brush I’m using in case you’re interested.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I started with the doors. I don’t have a basement to work in. And since it was snowing here in Central Illinois the day I painted my little gem, I couldn’t work in my garage. Once again I had to turn my kitchen table into a workbench. I placed wood blocks under the doors to raise them above the surface of the table so I could easily paint the sides without making a mess.

Important tip: Apply a thin coat of paint, and let it dry thoroughly before applying a second coat. You should be able to see through your first coat. If you can’t, you’re putting it on too heavy. And if you apply a second coat before the first coat is completely dry, your furniture will remain tacky forever. No joke.

Yet another important tip: When painting wood furniture, be sure to brush in the direction of the grain!

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the doors and drawers were painted, I started on one side of the wardrobe, painted the horizontal pieces and then cut in the recessed panel.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I painted the vertical boards, then painted in the panels and wha la! One side done already. For those of you who are super-observant, and are wondering why the top is of this wardrobe is all caddy-wompus in the photo, it’s not falling apart. Really. The top is removable, and I moved it as I painted so my brush could reach all the surfaces.

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I did the front, again painting the horizontal pieces then the vertical.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I worked my way around to the other side panel, and in the blink of an eye, the first coat was done!! You’ll need to follow the directions on your paint can regarding drying time before applying a second coat. After the second coat is completely dry, it’s time to distress. If you can stand it, it’s a good idea to let the paint dry overnight. Since my furnace was running full blast, the air in my house was warm and dry, allowing my paint to dry quickly. And as I mentioned earlier, I always apply two thin coats so the paint dries faster.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I prefer a piece of sandpaper of 100 to 150 grit wrapped around a block of wood for removing paint when distressing. My elbows also prefer it. With a smoother paper or without a block of wood, you’ll have to work pretty hard to get through two layers of paint. Some people use an electric sander, but I feel like I have more control sanding by hand.

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I mostly distress my pieces wherever they would naturally wear over time—edges, ridges, corners, around knobs, etc…

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

My distressed areas didn’t show up as well from a distance as I wanted them to, so I decided to take some stain on a rag and go over the sanded areas to darken them, wiping the excess off right away with a clean cloth. Any brown color will do. (When I’m distressing black furniture, I prefer to use a mahogany-colored stain to accentuate the sanded areas.) I liked the look of this light paint color as is, so I decided not to apply a glaze to further distress the wardrobe. If you’re interested in learning how to apply a glaze to further age and add more depth to your furniture, you can refer to my post, “How to Add a Patina to Furniture With Glaze.”

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So here it is in all its glory! My love has been restored for this gorgeous piece of furniture, and now I smile and sigh just a little every time I see it. I love how it turned out, and my bedroom feels much more cozy with this lovely piece of “old” furniture in it. I wish I would have had the nerve to paint it years ago. It went from dated to charming in a single day.

Here are some before and after photos.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Paint and Distress Furniture the Easy Way / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I shudder to think of how I’ve looked at this wardrobe with distaste every day for five years or more. I often wished it would spontaneously combust (without burning the carpet) so I could get rid of it without feeling guilty. And, like Dorothy, I had the power to change it all along! I just needed some courage.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail

Are you one of those people who can’t seem to leave well enough alone? Me too! Last year I painted a secretary (not the kind that works in an office) that I found at my local Habitat Restore. It turned out beautifully, but…

If you’re a follower, you may remember these photos.

Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For those of you who thought to yourself, “I can’t believe that woman actually painted that beautiful piece of furniture”, get ready to be mortified once again. Because now that I’ve painted it and made it look all nice and new, I’ve decided I no longer want it to look nice and new. I’m going to age it to give it more character, and to help the beautiful detail stand out. Ornate details become lost in a sea of black, and glazing won’t help them to stand out because it wouldn’t create enough contrast against the black. I also know that if I don’t like how it turns out, I can just repaint. Paint is a beautiful thing!!

I begin with roughing up the areas that would normally show wear over time—corners, around knobs and any area that protrudes. Here’s the before picture.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Remember, we want the nooks and crannies to show up a little better so I hit those with sandpaper.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here we are after sanding.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, using a cotton swab dipped in stain, I go over the area that I’ve sanded to darken up the color so it doesn’t look so much like I just took a piece of sandpaper to it. It gives the wood underneath a richer color, and hides any scratches that found their way into the surrounding paint.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the oil stain I already had on hand, and used for this project. I don’t often use oil these days, but since this was in my stash, oil it is! I love the color–red mahogany.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I repeat the same process in other areas.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And since I can’t seem to leave well enough alone, I decide to add some stenciling inside the glassed-in area, and here’s the stencil I’m using. It was purchased at Hobby Lobby for about $5. Or in my case it was free because of a gift card my son got me for Christmas. Sweet! The stenciling will be mostly hidden once I put all my treasures on the shelves, but I still would like to have them anyway.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I use what I call a “chip” brush instead of a stenciling brush in this case because I want the stencil to look blotchy and uneven—like it’s been worn down over time. I use a white acrylic craft paint.

Important tip: the key to a great-looking stencil is using almost no paint on your brush. I put a very small amount of paint on my brush, and then rub it in a circular motion on a piece of paper to remove almost all the paint. I can always add more paint, but if I get too much on my brush, it can seep underneath the stencil and mess up my lines.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

First one, done!

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

There’s a spray glue you can use to hold your stencil to the painting surface. I’ve never tried it, and always just use tape because I’m frugal. Works for me!

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I want to fill the whole area with this design, but the stencil’s too wide to use again on each side of the first stencil. I decide to fill the entire back with stenciling because the center stencils are blocked by wood when the door is shut. I tape off part of the stencil with scotch tape to make the design smaller, and flip the stencil upside down so it’ll fit on either side of the middle stencils.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I measure, and make a mark halfway between the end of the stencil and the side of the secretary. Measure twice, paint once! I use a dressmaker’s white chalk pencil so I can see it better on my black paint, and it just wipes off if the paint doesn’t cover it. Then I line up the center of the stencil with my mark, and paint on my new altered stencil. Fits like a glove!

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now I want to further age my stencils by using what we’ll call “dirty” water, which is just paint mixed with a little water to use as a wash. Any brown acrylic craft paint will work for this. I just wash it over the stencil and dab it back off until I get the look I want. Besides making the stencils look aged, washing them tones them down a bit so they aren’t so in-your-face.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve read that to help protect your painted furniture, you can apply a coat of paste wax. It adds depth and richness to the color, and further hides any sandpaper scrapes that are where they aren’t supposed to be. I still need to perfect this process, but the idea is that you wax your furniture just as you would wax your car. Wax onnnnn, wax off. Move over Ralph Machio!

Once you apply the paste wax, if you ever want to repaint, you’ll have to remove the paste wax first, so be warned. Here’s what I used, but this can is several years old. The product is still good as new though.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Before paste wax…

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

After paste wax…

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The after photo doesn’t do the piece justice because of the flash, but here we go anyway. Here are the before and after photos!

Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

With its new patina, I feel like this piece is a better fit for my home. I believe furniture that looks old is interesting, looks “loved” and has a certain charm. But that’s just me.

Here’s another example of a piece I painted and distressed. Here’s the before picture.

Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here are the afters.

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Distress Furniture to Accentuate Its Detail / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Side note: After hours of working on this project, my son Ross told me he couldn’t tell any difference between what my furniture looked like before, and how it looks now that it’s distressed and stenciled. But I’m not discouraged. He wouldn’t notice an elephant having tea on our living room sofa. I love it, and that’s really all that matters! I love you too, Ross (especially since he’s the one who got me the gift card for Christmas).

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Don’t Give Up on Broken Furniture–Think Outside the Box!

We meet again. I promised myself I wasn’t going to do any more furniture posts, but I couldn’t help myself. I want to encourage people to consider other avenues before throwing things into the landfill that can be repaired, re-purposed and re-loved by someone else. If you aren’t up to the challenge of repairing your cast-offs, maybe you can find a handy person who is. Or maybe you can donate your not-so-great furniture to your local Habitat Restore or anyplace where DIYers frequent. So let me explain what I found, and why I wrote this particular post.

I have strong sense of rescue built into my psyche when it comes to salvaging what the average person might consider to be…well…junk. I’m just wired that way. I nearly hyperventilate if I have to drive by a pile of furniture on someone’s curb without stopping. My children grew up with my psychosis where I would abruptly pull the car over, and tell one of them to jump out and quickly grab an old chair or side table. Thankfully my kids never seemed too fazed by the idea. I guess when you grow up that way, you assume every mother gives their children whiplash in order to nab yucky furniture off the curb. My children were taught patience by going to garage sales with me. “Just one more, kids. I promise.” I quickly learned that they wouldn’t last very long once they found their own treasures.

Those memories re-surfaced when I spotted Catherine. Since its February at the time of this writing, and there are no garage sales to be found here in Central Illinois, I spot her on one of my frequent trips to the Habitat Restore. Meet Catherine.

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I am a huge fan of our local Habitat Restore, but I must admit when I saw Catherine I thought, “Are they off their rocker?” (Pun. So sorry.) Why would they sell a rocking chair with a spindle missing? Do they really think someone’s gonna pay money for that? The spindle is tapered so it can’t be replaced with an ordinary wooden dowel. Most people would have just put it on the curb in hopes that someone like myself might pick it up and at least use it for firewood or something.

But the need to rescue starts tugging at me, and I decide just to sit on Catherine for a minute. You know, just to see how she feels. The “tushy” test, so to speak. I figure with the spindle missing the whole back is probably unstable, and I may end up on the floor. Nope. Solid as ever. The whole chair is solid.

So then I notice that she’s only $5. My heart skips a beat, and now I’m really trying to quickly come up with a way to make Catherine “normal” again. Feeling a sense of urgency, I remove her price tag so no one else will steal my find before I come up with a plan. I’m feeling a bit like “Ralphie” in the bathroom with his brand new decoder ring while little brother’s banging on the door.

I know that I can’t add another new spindle because of the taper, but I realize I can remove the spindle opposite the missing one, fill the remaining holes and paint her up! I’m pretty proud of myself for coming up with such a grandiose idea. I return home with Catherine, and show her to my son, Ross.

I explain about how I found this treasure, saving her from certain death, but that in the store I was trying to think of a way to fix her. Before I could blurt out the grand finale he interrupts and simply says, “Why don’t you just remove the spindle opposite the missing one?” He taps his index finger on his temple and says, “U of I, Mom.” So maybe the idea wasn’t as grandiose as I thought or maybe my son’s just super smart. Anyway, how great would Catherine be in a child’s room with a cute cushion, on a front porch or next to a fireplace with a blanket draped over it?

So step one is to remove the spindle without traumatizing Catherine. She’s so nice and sturdy that I want to be careful not to loosen up any of her other spindles, and make her wobbly during the “operation”. I use my jig saw that was purchased where? Yep, at a garage sale. The $5 tag is still on it. I leave it on because I’m slightly twisted–wanting to feel that rush I get when I see another bargain I snatched up. So I cut thru the spindle, and then twist the two pieces out. It worked much better than I anticipated. I was a bit worried that the pieces might be glued in, and would break and splinter on the ends and create a whole new set of problems. You might recall from my first post about Molly, that I don’t really enjoy furniture repair if it’s too involved. I just like to paint ’em. Here are pictures of the spindle removal. She looks much better once the “odd” spindle is completely removed.

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Next I fill in the holes left from Catherine’s spindle-ectomy. I decide to add small pieces of her spindle into the holes so I don’t have to fill them completely with filler. It would take at least a full day or two for that much filler to dry. It would also crack and shrink and have to be refilled again. So I fill the holes about halfway with filler, push the scrap spindle pieces into the filler and add more filler as needed. I slightly overfill, and then sand off the excess after it dries.

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I also fill the top holes even though they probably would never be seen.

While I’m waiting for the filler to dry, I go ahead and sand the entire chair to rough it up for paint. I think it would be more interesting to leave the spindles and the “rockers” unpainted so I tape them off. After the filler dries, I sand and prime the patched areas so they don’t show through the paint as a different sheen.

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Now I’m ready to paint.

Since I would like for Catherine to be able to be outside in the summer, I decide to paint her with exterior paint. I always have Sherwin William’s “Pure White” on hand in interior, exterior, satin, flat, and semi-gloss. It’s a bright, crisp white and I love it and use it often.

Whenever I paint a piece of furniture like this, I like to start with the piece upside down and paint the underneath areas first.

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But before I paint Catherine completely, I would like to “crackle” her, and have her original wood tone showing through in some areas such as her headrest, her arms and the front of the seat. So I apply the crackle medium generously, and then paint her white. Here is one of her crackled areas while still wet.

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Here she is after one coat.

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Catherine ends up taking three coats of paint, and that’s ok. I want my paint finish to be nice and solid. I wait a minimum of four hours in between coats, and then rough up chosen areas with 100 grit sandpaper. So here is what I’m thinking is going to be my “after” photo, but after some agonizing and careful deliberation with my genius son, I decide I don’t really like the spindles unpainted after all. Here’s Catherine before I decide to paint the spindles.

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I wish her crackle detail and roughened edges showed up better in the photo, but here are my official before and afters.

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If you would like more pictures of creative ways to paint rocking chairs, there are hundreds of pictures on “Google Images”. There are many colorful ideas there. I decide for me, a simple, neutral color is best, and then I can dress up Catherine with a throw or cushion to match the room she’s in. Or she can go au naturel outdoors on a nice spring day. Now spring just has to get here!!

After rescuing more furniture than my house can hold such as the coffee table below, I have made the decision to take some of the pieces I’ve written about in my posts to The Bronze Giraffe. It’s an antique store that’s packed with some very unique items if you are into that sort of thing. For more information about store hours and location visit them at http://www.BronzeGiraffe.com.

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Before closing, I would like to thank my daughter, Sophie, for all the hard work and time she has put into the creation of my webpage, business card design and many other projects, and for all the assistance she has given me with publishing these posts for my blog. She has pushed me to step outside my comfort zone (kicking and screaming) as far as teaching me how to publish and insert pictures into my posts. Now I’m a big girl and can do it on my own. Thank you, Sophie–you deserve a gold star!

This article was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. Feel free to visit her portfolio on her website www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos. And if you’re a fan of gardening, you may want to visit her urban gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.