Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homemade Harvest Table

In our new place, we have a large room at the back of the house that has two banks of picture windows. It's a bright room and perfect for a large table - but I wasn't willing to pay $1,000+ for an 8 foot harvest table! One day...

Until then, I found a blog post (which I also pinned to my "I'd Make This" board on Pinterest) where Loraine had made her own table out of pine boards and recycled table legs.   I thought it was fantastic and sounded straightforward - which is key since I'm not a total whiz with power tools (yet!). 

 I was pushed for time because we had guests coming for lunch, so I botched the staining-sealing-finishing step and will need to re-epoxy the top of the table, but otherwise I'm pleased with the results. Eventually I will replace the light, 1" boards with sturdier 2" boards, but for now it will serve it's purpose: an attractive, affordable, space-conscious, and functional table for our 'blue room!'

It took me a while to find the table legs I was searching for.  I finally found a table with the 'right' kind of attachments - braces rather than a full skirt - along with 4 chairs for $50.  I scooped it up and set about the new project.

Forget sanding - so messy and time-consuming! - I have been using homemade chalk paint on all my furniture since I first used it on the dresser below.

I fell in love with the recipe, it's just so cheap, so easy and virtually foolproof that I can't stop using it!

I don't bother with expensive high adhesion paints for glossy surfaces (like Zinsser BIN paint, which is great, too, but at $30-$40 a gallon, it's not a bargain).

There are many blogs online that do a fantastic job of writing tutorials for making your own chalk paint. I use the following:

1 part Plaster of Paris
3 parts latex paint (I have found that the 'Painter's Touch' high gloss paints do not work well)

I mix the water and Plaster of Paris together to form a paste about the consistency of thick cream. Stir well and until smooth. I mix in the latex paint and then add more water until it is paint-like consistency - it will be a bit thicker than usual. This paint dries ubber fast which is a plus, and you can do two coats in few hours. Sometimes I like to sand after 2 coats and then add a final coat of straight latex paint overtop before I wax it.

I use fine grit wet/dry sanding sponges and lightly sand with some water (often I spritz with a spray bottle full of water as I go). You will find the chalk paint sands easily so it's great for distressing or antiquing if that's the look you're going for. If not, throw a coat of pure latex overtop and then wax without sanding. The texture of the finished coat is a bit rougher, but I'm partial to it - test it out yourself, it may not be for everyone!

  After priming the chairs and table legs, I painted them with high gloss black (because that's what I had on hand).  If I hadn't had black paint in the 'shop I would have bought a satin or matte finish and waxed overtop. 

I purchased 1"x10"x8' 'bookshelf' boards at Home Depot but would recommend you go with the 2" boards instead for added stability (the 1" boards were just easier to fit in my car without any extra help and in a time crunch!).  As I said, I will replace them when I get a chance. They'll do for now!

 I had brace boards cut to size at Home Depot as well, and simply screwed these into the main boards to keep everything together.  I stained the table with a MinWax stain in a colour similar to the chairs and then I sealed it with some 2-part epoxy - I use EasyCast (not it's intended purpose, it's supposed to be used for making resin jewellery or art...but whatever!).  Unfortunately, because I was rushing I didn't let the stain dry for long enough and the epoxy resisted against it - so I had to scrape it down and I'll have to re-epoxy at a later date (aka. when I buy more!).  Lesson learned!

All-in-all I'm pleased with the effect and it will give us a way to 'entertain' without taking up an entire room. 

I'm sharing this blog post at The Shabby Nest - check it out and all the other inspiring ideas and DIY projects! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Personalized Vintage Crate

A final picture of the finished vintage crate! 

A close-up of the graphic I chose and edited from The Graphics Fairy a great site full of amazing vintage and antique graphics.  You should check it out!  My tricks for creating a custom graphic:

1.  Find a fairly simple graphic (or a complex one, but be prepared to spend many hours tracing the pattern and filling it in!)

2. Add text using Microsoft Word (or other word processing program).  I used MS Word and put in text boxes with the personalized names (Shedden and Jones, as well as the '&' sign placed in the sheep).  I'm sure you could also use Photoshop or some such thing...I just don't have it!

 3.  Choose "Select All' in Word and then 'Copy'.  Open MS Paint (or other basic drawing program) and 'paste' the image into Paint.  'Save As' a JPEG or PNG file (this is the important part - you need to save the image as a JPEG or PNG file so that you can do step #4). 

4.  Go to Block Posters an amazing site that allows you to upload any picture file and create a 'poster' version spanning multiple pages.  This site is great for blowing up graphics you want to include on custom pieces of furniture (like chairs, tables, dressers, boxes etc).  I've even seen it used on textiles. 

I used 'liquid chalk' pens to write on chalk boards for our wedding.
5.  Print out your image (I used 2 pages, 'portrait' orientation) and then cut out around the image.  Usually I rub the back of my image with a graphite stick (available in most art stores for about $2-$5 and lasts forever!), but since I was working with a darker background, I used a chalk pen this time.  You can find chalk pens at arts & craft stores or order some off of Ebay (like I did). 

6.  Position your image on your piece of furniture etc. and then tape it, face up, so it doesn't move - I use green painter's tape because it comes off easily when I am finished. 

7.  Use a ballpoint pen or other stylus-type tool and trace over all parts of the graphic.  I like to do this in one sitting so that I don't make any mistakes or forget any areas.  I keep my graphic afterwards in case I need to use it for reference.

8.  When you are done tracing, remove the graphic and tape.  You will see an outline of your graphic (either in graphite/pencil or in white chalk).  You can now paint/draw over this with either a small paint brush, paint pen, or even permanent marker.  I like to use a variety of permanent markers because I can get them for cheap inexpensively at the Dollar Store!  Plus, it's a lot easier to use permanent markers than it is to use a paint brush - and I even have a good eye and steady hand!  I recommend using either paint or permanent markers.  No one will know (unless you tell them in a blog!) and it speeds up the process.

9.  If you want to achieve a more 'aged' look to your graphic, you can sand it with fine sandpaper once it has dried.  I did this with the shabby chic French coffee tables, to the right, and then dry brushed over them with some white paint as well.  Depending on where your graphic is, you may want to wax or polyurethane over the top to give some protection.  I didn't do this step on my vintage crate because it's a more rough-and-tumble piece.

10.  Clean up and admire your handiwork (and then brag about it on a blog!)  *final step is optional*

Friday, September 14, 2012

Vintage Crate - Half Way There!

I finally took a photo of the slat crate before I painted it.  I gave it a decent sanding with 60 grit paper before painting, to try to tone down its splinter-giving capabilities.  It's a simple design, just slats nailed on to the corner pieces of wood.  I covered up the rough edges by nailing another slat on the front.  I used a multi-purpose tool to trim the wood to size and it made quick work of the slats. 

I painted to box with 3 different paints.  I pinkish-brown that I mixed with glaze so that some of the original wood would show through.  I 'weathered' the brown with some grey paint, hapazardly brushed on, and then used some black paint to darken and age the corners more heavily.  I was happy with the final product and now it's all ready for the fun part - adding some sort of graphic or typography! 

I've already started on another crate, this one with fewer slats, but have stalled out on the bottom (I ran out of slats, and wanted to use wood from a pallet I picked up yesterday, but removing the wood is a lot trickier than I thought it would be!). 

Here's a 'before' of the pallet.  Picked it up on the side of the road driving home from work yesterday and hoping to make one final crate out of this. 

Sure, it all doesn't look like much now...but the tranformations continue!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Double Trouble: Steamer Trunk and Vintage Crate (from scratch!)

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this Steamer Trunk project, that's for sure!  It's both time consuming and tricky - but it does look loads better when it's refinished!
Here are a couple of 'Before' photos of said trunk.  You can't tell from these pictures, but the top of the trunk was badly weather-damaged and the hardboard on the lid was unsalvageable.  It was like a soggy book!  I had to replace the hardboard which meant removing all of the hardware on the lid! 

The inside of the trunk does look like it may have been the site of a body-haul...but I assure you, it's just some sort of pink dye.  Obviously something leaked!  I have yet to tackle the body of the trunk, but it will have to be stripped down inside...I'm now debating about whether I should take it apart entirely.  It's quite difficult to put back together!  We shall see...

After spending hours yanking out the original nails and hardware, I de-rusted them (everything, everything, everything was rusty).  Instead of using that pink chemical stuff to remove the rust, I decided to be cheap environmentally friendly and try a more natural approach.  I boiled up a brew of vinegar (my favourite - good for everything!), salt, dish soap and some water.  I boiled the hardware in this for...not long, maybe 10 mins, making sure all the hardware was under the water.  Then I used a stainless steel scrubbing pad (you know, the kind that look like silver balls - to begin with - and you can get at the Dollar Store).  I rinsed them and dried them well.  Rust be gone!  At least mostly, and good enough to be sprayed with some Rustoleum Black Semi-Gloss spraypaint. 

I removed the misshapen hardboard and dismantled the wooden frame of the lid so that I could strip off the old paper lining and refurbish some of the wood.  I filled in any holes I could find with wood filler and put carpenter's glue in any splits that had formed from the old nails.  When it was dry, I give it a really quick sanding (like, I practically just brushed the sanding sponge over the wood three times) and then the wood also received the same Rustoleum paint treatment. 

I had the good people at Home Depot cut my new piece of 1/4" hardboard to size and I covered the inside with a turquoise leopard print paper - no pictures of that yet.  You will just have to wait in anticipation! 

At an auction recently, I picked up 4 burlap sheets for FREE (they belonged to the auction client, who I knew personally, and she was happy to get rid of them.  I'll take your garbage anyday!).  I washed the burlap and dried it in our dyer.  FYI, check burlap frequently if you're going to dry it.  It would have been good for me to frequently change the lint tray.  Burlap is messy stuff!  I also hung it outside for days to let the wind blow off as much fluff as I could.  When I was ready to use it, it was in pretty good shape and only needed a bit of a brush down before gluing - I used an old dried out paintbrush. 

I used plain old white glue (again) mixed with a little water to glue down the burlap.  I used a lot of glue, both on the hardboard and then over top of the burlap.  I tried to be even with my application on the top and really get the glue into the weave of the burlap.  It took a while to dry, and when it did it was nice and stiff - and durable. 

I had a bit of an internal debate about whether I should have spray painted the hardware silver or gold rather than black, but in the end I stuck with the black...because I didn't have gold (or bronze) spray paint, and that's what I thought might look best.  I like the black on black. You can't see them in the pictures, but the nails I used to put the hardware back on are pewter and make a nice contrast - not too severe.  If I decide to stencil on the top of the trunk (a shipping company name or some such thing) I think the black on black is a good choice. 

The top is mostly finished except for a few places I need to add some nails (I ran out).  As I said I'm trying to decide how best to tackle the body of the trunk it's just sitting in the workshop until I figure it out.

On Friday afternoon I came how with these in my trunk.  I'd been waiting to find a good reno somewhere in town and it turned out that a restuarant was gutting its insides - just for me!  A very lovely labourer pulled all of these lath and plaster slats off of their wood frames, with his bare hands no less!  Very impressive!  I loaded them up in the car and then let them sit out in the awesome rain storms we had on Saturday.  No need to wash them by hand when you can just leave them out in the rain, right?  I am soooo lazy resourceful!

The idea is to turn these slats and wood pieces into a Vintage Crate, or a series of crates, really...a la this: 

{In other news, I was asked to coordinate a friend's daughter's wedding on the day of the wedding as well as help pull together some of the 'artsy' details.  So let me get this straight:  I get to make things and boss people around?  And you'll pay me?  All my dreams have come true!!}
So, I thought, how hard can this be?  Not that hard, really.  This project was quite simple and rewarding as I was able to finish the making of the box in just a couple of goes.  I couldn't find the above picture until just now (who knows why?) and my subsequent crates will look a bit different (and use fewer slats), but it will all work out in the end.
First I had to knock all of the old nails out of the slats and figure out what sizes I had to work with.  I wanted to keep the cutting I would need to do to a minimum.  

I ended up using the original nails I knocked out from the slats to hammer into the pine boards I was using from the frame.  I had these boards cut to size at Home Depot, too. 

Some of the nails needed straightening out, a task easily accomplished by knocking them against the cement floor with my hammer. 

I hammered the slats onto the frames, and then cut slats for the ends and hammered those in, too.  I threw together a haphazard box in (what felt like) no time (but was actually a couple of hours...what with the nail hammering, wood sizing, cutting, and all). 

Of course, I haven't taken a picture of the completed box - that's next on the list.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Antique Kitchen Island - Part 3 - The Big Reveal!

Here it is in all it's glory!  I'm really happy with how this piece turned out in the end, although it had its struggles.  

I especially like the sanded and oiled top.  It's perfect for the kitchen!  I had to strip the old lacquer and finish which is always extra stubborn the older the piece.  After stripping, I sanded, sanded, sanded with my handheld power sander.  I stared with 60 grit and worked my way up to 280, I wiped it down and then wiped two coats of mineral oil on the top.  Mineral oil is great for the kitchen as it's food-safe (how do I know?  You can take it orally to...move things along... and it's available in the drug store isle of your local supermarket or other large box store!)  It's!  Ha!

A close-up of the front detailing.  After sanding and staining the decorative veneer, I painted the back.  After that I wasn't too sure of my choice as I wasn't convinced that the 'art deco' style veneer actually coordinated with the other delicate and more 'antique' embellishments.  I think the finish on the other drawers were what was going to make or break the continuity of this piece.

I was also happy with how the veneer 'patches' turned out and they blend fairly well.  Not bad for a first attempt.  Definitely good enough for our kitchen, I say!

I had a hard time deciding on what to do for the finish on the other drawers.  Originally, I had thought I would do some sort of brown decoupage print: flowers, scrolls, newsprint...I wasn't sure.  But because I'd used an ebony or black stain for the veneer, I needed something darker than I originally thought.  Out went the brown paper and in came more of the ebony stain.  I think it was the right choice.  I decided to keep it simple.  I did need to cover up the drawer fronts as the veneer wasn't in great shape, so I used an easy 'leather look' technique.

To achieve the look, simply use brown craft paper (or an old brown paper bag - you know those ones you get when you purchase 'adult beverages??') cut an inch or so bigger on all side than the drawer.  Crumple up the paper - really crumple and rub it until it starts to soften and has a nice worn look to it.  Then I painted on some plain white glue (you could also use ModPodge or Decoupage Medium...but I'm cheap.  So I use white glue), and simply pressed down the paper on top.  I made sure to flatten it out well, keeping the majority of wrinkles, but evening out major bunch-ups.

Then I applied the ebony stain to a baby wipe (you can use a sponge, brush or paper towel) and rubbed it gently over the top of the paper until I had the depth of colour I wanted.  I sealed over the stain with a coat of white glue.  I set the drawers out in the sun, and once they had dried, trimmed off the excess paper from the edges using a utility knive (Exacto knife).  When the drawers were totally dry, I sealed them with a coat of clear spray sealant - you could also use polyurethane.

Surprise!  Red inside!

The last special detail I added were these hand-antiqued knobs.  I was totally frustrated when I went to my pulls and knobs stash and discovered I only had 6 of almost all the knobs I own!  I tried to find coordinating knobs, but they were the wrong colours.  After boiling all the knobs in a pot of water and dish soap to remove their 'coatings,' I scrubbed them and dried them.  Then I used some of the ebony stain and some enamel spray paint to give them a similar aged look, sprayed them with a couple of coats of clear sealant and they were good to go!

The two knobs on the middle drawer are a bit smaller than the others, but they coordinate and don't detract overall.  Good enough!

And there you have it!  A $60 vanity transformed into a kitchen island and an extra prep space for our smaller kitchen.

I'm linking up and sharing this makeover at Funky Junk Interiors - click below to check out the other creative projects.  Lots of inspiration ahead! 

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Monday, September 3, 2012

Antique Kitchen Island (Vanity) - Part 2

So...we left off with some sanded and naked drawer fronts.  I liberally applied ebony stain (and actually after this picture went back and touched up the veneer patches because they weren't quite right!), and the patches started to blend in pretty well.  Not perfect, but getting there! 

There was also quite a bit of patching and rebuilding to do on the body of the vanity/island, so I set to work with my putty knife and some wood filler. 

It took a few rounds to build up this missing corner piece (not a great photo, but the whole section was gone!) and to sand it smooth. 

There was also a chunk missing on the left-hand side, so same process applied there.  Fill it in with wood filler, sand when dry, and add any extra wood filler that might be needed, and sand again!

I spent a bit of time stripping and then sanding down the top of the island/vanity because I want to oil it with mineral oil so that it will be food safe for the kitchen.  Plus, I love the contrast it will have with the white paint. 

I also slapped on a first coat of off-white homemade chalk paint.  I can't wait to see what the final product will look like.  I still need to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of the drawer fronts...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Antique Vanity Makeover - Part 1

I was looking for a kitchen island or cart for the kitchen, but couldn't find anything I liked - for the right price, that is!  I started looking for something that could work on Kijiji and found this vanity:

 The dimensions fit and so did the price ($60 - more than I would normally pay, but I could see the potential in this piece, plus it was for the house so I didn't have to worry about resale value).
I loved all the detailing, especially the legs and scrolls.  The vanity (which I'm going to start calling an 'island') has quite a few places where the veneer was chipped, and some was lifting.  For some excellent tutorials on how to deal with problem veneer, visit 4 The Love of Wood  out in Langley, BC.  You'll also get lots of inspiration there because Kristy's work is amazing!

I started patching up the veneer and other problem areas first.  I want to keep the top drawers 'au naturel' because I like the decorative veneer, but some of the drawers were missing large chunks in the corners.  My solution to this problem was to cut a clean edge on the old veneer on the drawer, and, using some salvaged veneer from another project created patches for the missing pieces. Because the pieces were right on the corners of the drawer, they were difficult to clamp so I used what I had on hand - painter's tape - to keep the veneer in place.  I used plain old carpenter's glue - it does the trick every time!

After the veneer pieces dried, I sanded the faces of the drawers.  You can clearly see the patches below.  I had some ebony wood stain on hand, so decided to stain the faces with that, mostly because I was too cheap and too lazy to go and pick up anything else.  And maybe also because it was 10pm and all the stores were closed!

I put extra stain on the 'new' veneer corners to help them blend in with the rest of the veneer.  It's not perfect, but its much better!  Stay tuned for Part 2 - where I'll show you some other prep steps before painting.