Fresh Look for a French Country Secretary

Thank goodness for paint. Many pieces of furniture destined for the landfill have been saved by those of us who love to rescue such things, thanks to the miracle of paint. And once rescued, our treasures can be painted and re-painted as our homes change, our color pallets change or we move to a different home altogether. Such is the case in this post where my second-hand secretary got a new lease on life for the second time.

I paid $45 for this beauty at my local Habitat Restore several years ago. It was a little tattered, and the fretwork was so damaged that it couldn’t be saved. It also had a few pieces that needed to be re-glued, but ohhhhh how I loved this piece of furniture!

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

It was a clear choice for me to paint it black after I originally brought it home since it was going to live next to my black kitchen table. I loved how sophisticated and formal it looked. Here’s the piece after I painted it black. It was beautiful!

 French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Now we fast forward. I moved to a different home where I wanted to create a more relaxed atmosphere, and after several months of indecision, and switching to a curb-find kitchen table that I painted white, I decided the time had come for the secretary to become white too. If I hated it, I could always paint it black again. Right?

I love stripes when it comes to interior design. Stripes on walls, stripes on furniture and stripes on upholstery just make my heart sing! So my makeover had to involve stripes. I love the calmness of French Country design, and I wanted something subtle for this piece of furniture.  My goal was to remove it from its just-another-painted-secretary status.

I painted it White Duck by Sherwin Williams, but I wanted to leave the interior black for contrast for my white dishes. There was a chance this piece might end up in my bedroom at some point, and my bedroom furniture is also White Duck. That made the main color choice an easy one.

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Now for the stripes. Grain sack stripes are my new-found love, so I searched the internet for dimensions that would be appropriate, although there are different styles of this type of stripe. I had zero luck finding measurements, so I played around with some printer paper and tape to come up with stripes that felt right to me.  So for those of you who would like a guide, I ended up using a 2″ stripe down the center, a 3/4″ space on both sides of the large stripe, and then I decided on 1/2″ stripes on the outer edges. Here are my samples—neither of which I used, but you get the idea.

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I wanted to add some stenciling in addition to the stripes, and since I didn’t want to experiment with a design directly on the secretary, I made a mock-up out of cardboard. First I cut the cardboard to the size of the area of the desk I was wanting to paint, and then I painted it White Duck. I then drew the lines for my stripes.

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I needed three different shades of a similar color for my design, so I chose light, medium and dark colors from my SW Color-to-go samples. If I had used only one color for all three areas, some of the areas would have disappeared where parts of the design overlapped. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I painted the stripes on my cardboard with the medium shade (SW Agreeable Gray) without taping them off, but when I painted the actual furniture, I used green frog tape to get nice, straight lines with no bleed-through. I must admit when my skeptical self first heard about frog tape, I thought it was just a gimmick to get people to spend more money since it’s pretty pricey. But after using it, I highly recommend it because it’s much better for striping than regular blue painter’s tape.

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I then started stenciling. I only wanted to use certain parts of the stencils, so I put tape over the parts I didn’t want transferred. I used the lightest shade for the vines (SW Worldly Gray).

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

So here’s what I had after adding my first stencil.

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

And for the second stencil that I purchased at Michael’s, I used the darkest color (SW Anew Gray). This step makes it more obvious why I couldn’t use just one color for this project. You can see in the next photo, how my stencil overlaps my stripes. If I had stenciled the letters in the same color as the stripes, the letters would have disappeared.

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

After I finished, I taped the cardboard sample to the desk to see if everything looked the way I wanted it to. Yep. Good to go!

French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Now I was ready! I repeated all these steps again, but on the actual piece of furniture this time.

 French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I loved this piece painted black, but it’s more appropriately painted white in the less formal style of my current home.

 French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Unfortunately, the decorative painting doesn’t show up too well in the photographs taken from farther away, but I hope you can see well enough in the close ups to get the idea.

 French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 French Country Secretary/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

It’s amazing how changing the color of this piece from black to white brightens up the space. I also re-painted an armoire from black to white at the same time I painted the secretary, but haven’t jazzed it up just yet. More about that one later…

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager/Redesigner. If you enjoy gardening, you may want to pay a visit to her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.Wordpress.com.

DIY Laundry Room Table

DIY Laundry Room Table

As part of my laundry room makeover, I needed to find a creative, functional way to fill an empty space next to my dryer. It was a smallish, awkward space that was too narrow for a pantry-type cabinet, so I decided a small table that I could use when I fold laundry would be the next best thing.

My laundry room is a bit odd because instead of having the washer and dryer side by side like the rest of the civilized world, mine are directly across from each other. So that awkward space that most people have between their washer and dryer, for me, happens to be between my dryer and the wall. Here’s the “dryer side” of my laundry room right before I moved in.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I realized there was a zero chance that I would find a table exactly the size I needed—16″ wide, 31″ deep and 39.5″ tall. Those were peculiar dimensions for a table, but I had a vision. And I knew the only way to get that table out of my head and into my laundry room was to build it myself. Thus my twenty-seven cent table was born.

My goal was to build a table that would fit snugly enough between the dryer and the wall that socks and undies couldn’t go AWOL. I wanted the table to be on wheels so I could slide it out easily if need be, but most of all, I just wanted the darn thing to be cute. Function doesn’t have to be ordinary.

Here are some of the materials I used to make the table. As always, I would like to point out that it pays to pull treasures off of curbs.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Bargain number one…I pulled the bed posts off of a curb a few years ago. They had decorative tape all over them. Some little girl was expressing herself I suppose. I got tired of peeling it off, so you can still see some of the stubborn pieces in the photos.

Bargain number two…the wheels. These were off of a butcher block kitchen cart I found next to a dumpster. I took it home and stripped it down like a car thief strips down cars for parts. You might scoff at that, but I got some pretty handsome wheels to show for it.

The plywood scrap, as well as some 2 x 4’s and other trim that you’ll see in future photos was all leftover from other projects.

Note that a bolt was missing from one of the ends of the bed posts in the last photo. I bought a new bolt and cut off the head with a hack saw to replace the missing one. There’s where my twenty-seven cents came in. It’s the only item I had to buy specifically to build this table. (I bought four bolts, but only ended up using one.)

I was going to begin this project by cutting the knobs off the ends of the bedposts so I would have a flat surface to attach the wheels to. As luck would have it, the knobs actually screwed right off! And the threads on my wheel brackets matched the threads on the metal pieces inside the bed posts so they screwed right in. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now I have four little knobs for another project!

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In order to make the table the correct height, and to have something to attach the bed posts/legs to, I added 2 x 4 blocks to the underside of the plywood. I measured where they needed to go and drew lines as a guide as to where to install them.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve had these spiky threaded do-dads in my stash for so long that I don’t remember where I got them. I had no idea what they were used for, or what they were even called, until I looked online for ideas on how to attach legs to tables. They’re called t-nuts, and the threads inside the t-nuts were a perfect match with the threads that were inside the other ends of the bed posts.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After drilling holes into the wood blocks for the t-nuts, and pounding the them in, I screwed each block into the plywood top.

DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
 photo IMG_7509.jpg

Next I screwed the legs into the t-nuts.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately the legs were a tad wobbly, so I added extra screws to them.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I flipped the table over and added some ripped down ship lap that was leftover from my screened porch. It covered all the ugliness going on underneath the table. (Note the nice shot of the blue zebra tape.)

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

At this point, I primed the plywood top and the legs, but only after some deep breathing and determination to finally get rid of that last bit of tape!

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To add a little more detail, I layered some door casing I had leftover from when I trimmed out my doors and windows on top of the ship lap.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I added trim that was leftover from my kitchen remodel to cover the rough plywood edges.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I primed the trim and painted everything with two coats of paint, and my table was complete! Here she is.

DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now I no longer have an awkward space next to my dryer. I’ve got a place for some pretty flowers to add a little cheer to my laundry room, and I’ve got a spot for clean laundry when I’m folding.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

One of these days, I’ll be posting my complete laundry room redo, so without giving away too much, here are my before and after photos.

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Laundry Room Table/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Final thought…I realize you may be thinking, “Does she really think I’m gonna walk down the street and just happen to stumble across four bed posts that I can make a table with?” The answer is probably not (although it did happened to me *grin*). But you could pull legs off of a table purchased at your local Habitat Restore, thrift store, yard sale or yes, even from a free heap on the curb, to make a custom table to fit your space.

Be creative. Use your imagination. There are endless ideas on Pinterest and Google on how to create simple projects like this one to personalize your space and make it function for you. So get going!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager/Redesigner. If you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

American Flag Pallet

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.

Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table

Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It happened again. I was minding my own business on my way home from running errands with my dog, Buster, and there it was. A baby changing table was on the curb, practically jumping up and down saying, “Take me home! Rescue me from landfill hell!” How could I refuse such a plea?

Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’d been searching for quite some time for something I could use for a coffee table in my family room. You might be wondering why I didn’t just go out and buy one like most normal people. Reason number one—I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself normal, and reason number two—my family room is too “cozy” for a full-sized coffee table.

I’d been trying to get creative on this one. I was thinking a neat piano bench or maybe a sofa table cut down to size would better suit my space. But my curbside Guardian Angel, put me in the right place at the right time, and a baby changing table it is!

I loved the idea of a coffee table for this particular piece because it had a drawer and a lower shelf for storage. Those of you who are fellow small-space dwellers, know how important storage of any kind is, and I rarely snatch anything that doesn’t have storage in it, on it, or under it.

This was an easy transformation. I just cut the legs off with my $5.00 garage sale jig saw, and that’s all there was to it as far as structural alterations.

Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Of course, I fully intend to use the remaining pieces at some point.

Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I painted my new old coffee table black with my favorite premixed black paint from Sherwin Williams. It’s an interior/exterior paint that adheres to pretty much anything.

 Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

We had our first warm day on the weekend I planned this project, so I was able to paint outside.

Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The holes where the screws were inserted didn’t have plugs in them, so I searched my plug stash and happened to have the exact size I needed. The plugs look infinitely better than the holes did.

Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I looked through my drawer of miscellaneous hardware that I’d collected from various garage sales and old furniture projects, and my heart skipped a beat. I found these cute little danglies that were the perfect drawer pulls for my new coffee table. I decided to paint a small section of the hardware black to tie it in better with the table. Here’s a photo of one of the danglies before I painted it, and another one after painting.

 Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here are my before and afters. You just gotta love free stuff!

 Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Baby Changing Table Turned Coffee Table / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’m considering covering a cushion with some fabric to put on the top so that my new treasure could also be used as an ottoman. If and when I do, I’ll post a new photo. But for now, I’m loving it the way it is.

To see photos of other curbside finds I’ve refurbished, 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.

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.

DIY Personalized Serving Tray

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This personalized serving tray was my most recent undertaking to satisfy my urge to do something creative. It was the result of a combination of three separate events. Event number one was that my son and his fiancée were married last month. Number two, I rescued this cute little serving tray off a curb, stuck it in my garage and wondered what the heck I was going to do with it. Number three, it’s Christmas. A right-brain-epiphany inspired me to create this adorable tray for a Christmas gift for my son and new daughter-in-law.

Here’s what the original “treasure” looked like when I found it. I call this a treasure because that’s exactly what this was to me, which is a great lead-in to my plea to ask that you to donate your items rather than toss them in the garbage. There are many curb shoppers out there, but there aren’t enough of us to save all of your items from the landfill. Every community has places such as the Habitat Restore, Goodwill and the Salvation Army that would be grateful to have your unwanted items.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I wanted to paint the tray, and my OCD couldn’t handle the heavy grain and other imperfections in the wood, I coated the tray sparingly with Durabond. If you don’t have OCD, or you have a smooth surface to paint on, you could eliminate this step.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After it dried, I sanded off most of the Durabond, leaving the dents, dings and heavy grain filled.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I primed the tray, allowing a couple of hours for it to dry before applying my paint. Here’s the primer I used.

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a helpful tip. Whizz covers can be stored inside cans of paint so there’s no need to wash them out, or throw them away and get a new one every time the primer is used. They float on top of the paint so you don’t have to fish around for them.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I painted the tray with two coats of latex paint that I had on hand. The color I used here is “Duck White” from Sherwin Williams. I’m proud and elated to report that it took all the self-control I could muster, but I managed to allow four hours of drying time between coats before moving on to the next step. (Very important!)

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Finally, the real fun begins! I went to a website called dafont.com, and got sucked into looking at hundreds of lovely fonts–literally hundreds of fonts. Most women like to look at jewelry, clothing or shoes. Not this chick; I get a rush out of fonts. I was in font heaven. I downloaded several, and then agonized over which two would be the big winners for my project.

I kept in mind that I was going to need to be able to paint the lettering after I traced it, so I shied away from the more intricate fonts. I’m well aware of my limitations with an artist’s brush when it comes to delicate swirls and lines that require actual talent. It sometimes seems the bristles on my liner brush have a mind of their own. The winning font I used for “EVANS” was called David, the “Brandon & Rachael” font was called HansHand, and I used both in a bold setting. I printed out the names with my printer, and then used a projector to put the lettering onto the tray.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a picture of the projected image, all ready for me to trace.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I set up the projector on one counter top, and then set the tray on the counter top across from it. This set up wasn’t the best for tracing. Contortionism was the name of the game here. I had to trace the letters while curled up under the upper cabinet with my keister sticking out, my elbows hitting the counter top and my wrist cocked at 90 degrees while maneuvering a pencil. I also couldn’t press too hard with the pencil or the tray would flip backwards because I was dealing with a protruding back splash. Don’t try this at home.

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The pencil lines don’t have to be perfectly straight (thank goodness) since they can be tweaked with paint later. Mine looked as if I got caught tracing during the great San Francisco earthquake. It’s important to use a pencil because ink or marker will bleed through the paint. I tried to keep the pencil lines slightly inside of the projected letters, since I knew the letters would “grow” a little when I doubled back to perfect my lines.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I broke out the artist brushes. For the “EVANS” lettering I used a gorgeous blue/gray color from Sherwin Williams called Gray Clouds that I used to paint my main living area.

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’m guessing you noticed my not-so-perfect paint lines in the last photo. Never fear! I used my favorite liner brush to straighten them out. I also made sure to cover all my pencil lines, because even the tiniest lines that don’t get painted over will be magnified when varnished.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

What a difference the right brush makes! Before…

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And after using my liner brush. Much better now.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So now the “EVANS” is complete. I let this dry completely before I move on.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I traced “Brandon & Rachael” over the top of the already painted “EVANS”. And yes, these lines look like I hit a 7.5 on the Richter scale too, but you’ll never know it when you see the finished project.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since these letters are smaller, I used a liner brush to paint them.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then it was the time to tweak. I had some letters that weren’t shaped quite right, but I got out all three paint colors, and reshaped and touched up wherever the letters didn’t look the way I wanted them to.

After all the lettering was completed, I felt like the tray was a little blah-zay, so I decided to paint a small, black stripe under the lettering. I highly recommend “frog” tape for striping because it blows blue painter’s tape out of the water for creating a nice, crisp line. I thought frog tape was a bunch of hype until I used it when I painted stripes around a gymnasium at a local fitness center. It was during that project that frog tape stole my heart. Here’s how I taped off my line.

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then took a credit card, and gently but firmly pushed the edge of the tape down where I was going to paint. (This is a step that non-OCD individuals might deem unnecessary, but I couldn’t bring myself to skip this step.)

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I didn’t press the rest of the tape to my project. I left it flapping. The more tape that’s pressed onto the surface of your project, the more chance you have of pulling paint off with the tape. This is another reason why I was sure to allow plenty of drying time in between coats. When I removed the tape, I pulled it off back against itself, not towards me. And I pulled very slooooooooooowly. Here’s a picture with the stripe added.

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next came the hard part. Waiting. Not my favorite thing. Since I used black paint in my lettering, I waited two days before trying to varnish over it. Black paint has a tendency to smear when varnished over, and to avoid that problem, I took a 3/4 inch flat wash artist brush, and ever-so-lightly with as few strokes as possible, put a thin layer of varnish over all the black lettering and my black stripe. I let it dry for a few hours.

 photo IMG_4205.jpg

Here’s the brush I used.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I was ready to varnish the entire tray. The instructions on the can of varnish I purchased recommended three coats, so that’s exactly what I did. As a rule, I don’t like to varnish my projects, but since this is a serving tray that might be exposed to spills, I decided it would be a good idea. Also, projects that are going to be handled, should probably be varnished to protect them from dirty fingerprints. Varnish is more washable than standard latex wall paint.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’re looking for a project that can be done in a day, keep looking. This project isn’t difficult, but it does need several periods of drying time. If you don’t wait, you could end up with thick, gloppy letters with heavy brush strokes as you add new wet layers on top of the old still-soft layers. Not to mention if you use tape on your impatient paint job, you may suffer unspeakable frustration when you peel off your tape and chunks of paint come off with it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

This project makes a nice gift for anyone, not just newlyweds. Adding children’s names would be a neat idea too (if you know the targeted family is done spawning). Not only was this a fun gift to make, but since this tray was a curb find, and I already had all my paint supplies, it was 100% free. Free is good–especially around the holidays!

Here are the before and after photos.

 DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Personalized Serving Tray / HomeStagingBloomintonIL

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

Wardrobe distressing

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’m glad I mustered the courage to change it. No regrets!

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.

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand

Dresser converted to entertainment stand

So I mention to my son, Ross that I’ve scoped out a pile of discarded furniture on the curb a few blocks from home. At our house, that means its time to explore the possibility of recycling at its finest. It’s even more exciting this day since Ross has just bought a condo, is looking for furniture and is on that new-homeowner budget that many of us have experienced. Free is good. We like free.

I’ve been doing this sort of thing long enough that I have no shame when it comes to snatching up cast offs from the street if I have a use for them. (When you see the “after” pictures, you’ll understand why.) My children now share this lack of humility, maybe not to the degree that I have it, but they share it nonetheless. I see it as an asset.

The key to curb shopping is to act quickly as our community has its share of decorators, stagers and designers who also have no shame. Many of these women incorporate their rummaging into their professions. They can spot a diamond-in-the-rough in a nanosecond, and I often run into the same talented, artsy women at estate sales, our local Habitat Restore, church rummage sales, garage sales and anywhere bargains can be found. None of us are destitute. It’s simply a thrill to create something unique, beautiful and functional out of nothing. And of course, there’s the “rescue” factor. I consider it to be an addictive art.

So Ross and I hop into my tiny use-me-like-a-pickup-truck Honda Fit, and set off on our adventure. Score! We pull a beat-up, but sturdy old dresser that’s missing a drawer out of the heap, and stuff it into my car. I have a vision. This is a very 70’s-looking piece of furniture based on the wood and stain color, but it has a nice shape to it and its solid. I’ve learned not to mess with pieces that are wobbly or are in need of repair that I’m not qualified to perform. It frustrates me, and I have enough gray hair.

So here’s our find.

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The top drawer’s sliding mechanism has broken off, but is an easy fix with some small nails and adhesive. It only takes a couple of minutes to re-attach it. That, I can handle.

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We lucked out because some dressers don’t have plywood in between the drawers like this one, which is what I need to fulfill my vision. I add small strips of wood underneath the plywood piece along both sides for additional support. Sorry—no photos of this. But I just use some scrap wood that I have on hand that is probably about 1” by 1”, and some wood screws to attach it to the sides of the dresser underneath the plywood.

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The next step is to remove the runner that the missing drawer used to slide on in its younger, healthier days.

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Next I sand the entire piece just enough to rough up the surface. After years of hand-sanding, I recently treated myself to a real-life, modern-day, electric sander. (The fact that I still have fingerprints is pretty miraculous.)

 photo IMG_2854.jpg

As is the case with most of the older, gaudy drawer pulls, they have a tendency to leave indentations on the face of the drawers where they rested and dug into the furniture over time. Since we’re going to update the hardware, we need to fill those indentations so they won’t show since the new pulls won’t hide them.

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I smooth a thin coat of durabond over the face of the drawer to fill in the indentations from the hardware as well as any dings and scratches. If I don’t fill them in, the dresser’s going to look like something I pulled off a curb. Ewww! After it dries, I sand off the excess durabond.

Note: For more information about durabond, refer to my post “Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets“.

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 photo IMG_2857.jpg

You can see how the imperfections are now filled, and they’ll magically disappear after painting.

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I look over the entire dresser, and perform the same process wherever I see scratches or chips. Clearly this dresser was in a child’s room or a toy room based on the extensive wear and tear. (Perhaps I should have been a private investigator.) It’s covered in scratches and dings. But never fear…

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I then prime the piece so that the patched areas don’t show through the paint, and so the paint will adhere better. If the patched areas aren’t primed, they’ll show through the paint as a different, more flat-looking sheen.

Here’s the piece with one coat of wet paint. Most paint stores or paint sections of box stores carry premixed quarts of paint that are intended for furniture. Most have a standard black, and a standard white so you don’t have to mess with trying to pick just the right color. If you’ve ever tried to pick out a white or black paint, it’s a monumental task because there are so many shades. This takes the guess-work out of it for you.

 photo IMG_2865.jpg

We drilled holes through the back of the dresser for the electrical cords. It’s now the ideal entertainment stand. The drawers can be filled with video games and DVD’s, and the area where the drawer is missing is perfect for components and video game systems. It’s a great height for viewing from a couch or chair, and the width is just right for the space. Since black paint is a staple at my house, all my son had to spring for was an economy pack of handles which he also used on some other furniture pieces we refurbished.

Here are the before and after photos.

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

We feel this piece turned out just as well as any piece we would have paid a few hundred dollars for in a furniture store. And now you may have some insight into why we have no shame in pulling items off the curb. An added benefit is that we know we’re saving landfill space too!

Here are some other pieces we transformed for the condo with paint and a little elbow grease.

We paid $15.00 for two bar stools at a garage sale, and spray painted them black. We removed the swivel mechanisms since they weren’t in very good working order, and just screwed the seat to the base. We figured if they swiveled, they would get banged up easier anyway!

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

These little gems were purchased at a garage sale for $4.00 each. I painted these black, and added handles that match the entertainment stand to help tie all the pieces together since they’re in the same room. Note the nifty lock-tie on the cabinet on the left that was used as a door opener. One of the cabinets still had a shelf inside which is great for organizing. So Ross has one for each end of his sofa.

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found this gorgeous oak antique table stuffed in between two mattresses on the curb down the block from me. The legs weren’t attached when I found it, but I screwed them onto the table top, and they were perfectly fine. It appears there were leaves at one time, but there weren’t any on the curb. I guess beggars can’t be choosers, and if we want to extend the table, I’m sure we can figure something out.

I saw the chairs on another street near my house set out for the garbage man one day, and told Ross if he wanted some free dining room chairs to go snag them. And so he did! They looked brand new, and are very sturdy. I painted them black to match the bar stools that are in the same room because although the chairs are oak, as is the table, they didn’t match. So here is my son’s dining set that was absolutely free. It’s gorgeous!

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The sisal rug underneath the table was from a garage sale. And the very cool wooden dough bowl on the table (that I almost kept for myself), I found at a neighborhood church rummage sale.

 photo IMG_2946.jpg

This night stand in my son’s bedroom was also from an estate sale. There are two of them, and I fixed these up a couple of years ago. They appear to be made of cherry, and I’m sure they were top-of-the-line back in the day. I found baskets to fit in the cubbies for storage. And as any loving mother would do, I let Ross take them to his new home.

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Curbside Dresser Morphs Into Entertainment Stand / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Please keep in mind that I don’t have to search to find these treasures. All of these items in this post were found within a few blocks of my house, and I see things like this all the time. I live in a peaceful, run-of-the-mill, middle class neighborhood–maybe it’s just a Midwest thing, but this stuff is everywhere.

It makes me sad to think some of these items were going to be thrown away. There are many organizations in my community (and probably yours) that would be thrilled to have these types of pieces donated to them so they can be passed along to people who need them. There are many people who are struggling, so please take a moment to locate a place to donate to before throwing your treasures away!

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

Distressed and painted secretary

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.