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.

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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

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.

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.

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.