With custom furniture painting and refinishing, everything old is new again.
Grandma’s dark wood china cabinet has been in the family for generations. You’re tired of looking at it but can’t bear to part with the family heirloom. What to do?
Give it a fresh new finish or artistic paint job and voila! You’ve got a “new” piece of furniture, something with unique character you won’t find in a furniture store. That’s the beauty of custom painted furniture.
When people bring me their tired old heirloom or flea market find, I love showing them the potential for transforming it into something they’ll fall in love with all over again, like the sideboard pictured here.
Turning oldies into goodies
Unlike today, in our grandparents’ day furniture was built to last. But, alas, those dark finishes and heavy hardware don’t work in our modern homes. With a little creativity, we can bring those old pieces into the 21st Century. We can lighten and brighten them, or get creative and funky, for a fraction of what it would cost to buy something new.
And for the eco-conscious among us, here’s another good reason to re-love not replace – you’re keeping it out of the landfill!
True re-love stories from my art studio:
A family was downsizing and wanted to give some furniture to their kids. But the younger generation didn’t want the old stuff. So we painted it gray & black, and changed the hardware, giving it a totally modern look. Now the kids are fighting over who gets it.
Then there was the man who had built a rocking horse for his daughter when she was a child and he wanted to regift it to his grandchild. He brought the plain wooden horse in for a fresh coat of paint and we transformed it into a fanciful toy his grandchild would cherish.
So bring me your old, your tired…your run-down furniture yearning for a new start in life. With some paint, stencils, hardware and a little imagination we’ll turn it into a gem you’ll be proud to have in your home.
PART 2: Painting 30-year-old Oak Cabinets White
HERE'S WHAT I DID, WHAT I LEARNED, AND A FEW USEFUL TIPS...
PART 1: Choosing Materials & The (tiny) Budget
Its time. I'm done talking about it (for 10+ years). And I'm excited to have some DIY fun!
Plus I want to share it all and show you what I'm doing (in case you are thinking about doing something similar). Yes, CABINET PAINTING will be involved!
And now... the scary (and slightly embarrassing) part: The Before Pictures.
Can you say 1980's? Yup. Proof that I do not have an awesomely decorated home. Yep. Remember the story of the Cobbler's children who had no shoes? Well, I haven't gotten around to my own home because I've been busy working on painting furniture for other people and teaching students how to paint THEIR kitchens!
(I'm taking a Sabbatical from the studio/store for a few weeks.)
So here it goes!
I already knew that the cabinets would be WHITE. (I'm SO tired of brown cabinets.) I wanted the countertop colors to play well with the cabinets, since they are going to be touching each other all the time...
So I did some research, priced it out, and discovered Lifeproof Vinyl Flooring in Sterling Oak. It's quite affordable (under $3 per sq ft at Home Depot). Plus it has built in padding, which is great on concrete floors (aka. my kitchen)! I carried my floor swatches around for a week, trying to coordinate them with everything.
This is where I reminded myself "you're on a budget, you're on a budget, remember!"
After watching one too many episodes of Fixer Upper, I originally chose Subway Tile. At $0.22 per tile, its very affordable - and looks trendy. And I brought a few home. And then decided - naaaaaahhhhh. I need something more interesting (nothing against subway tile, it's just not my taste)! So I swapped funds from another part of my budget, and voila - the $8/sqft fancy stone tiles! I had to splurge a tiny bit. (After all they weren't the reeeeeeeally expensive tiles I would have picked if I had unlimited funds...just a nice compromise!)
If you haven't ordered from D. Lawless Hardware before, you will thank me. Let's just say they are VERY reasonably priced for the high quality of their products. (Disclaimer: I've spent many hours on their website.) I've been using their hardware on furniture for a while and LOVE it! You're welcome!
I wasn't originally planning on replacing the hinges on my cabinets. They seemed to be dark bronze-ish. And I didn't want to paint them (painted hinges don't wear well over time). And I personally like it when the cabinet handles & knobs coordinate with the hinges (if they are showing). So I chose Venetian Bronze handles and matching knobs with a little bit of copper showing through. Eventually, I realized the original hinges didn't match, so I replaced them with new, inexpensive Venetian Bronze hinges (also from D. Lawless Hardware - thanks, guys!).
My advice for choosing materials:
1. Get samples of everything, and look at them in different lighting in the room you are making over. Lighting is EVERYTHING! Make sure you like them during the day AND at night. Make sure they still "match" in different lighting. And keep in mind what colors and textures will be touching each other. You don't want to get dizzy when you look at them.
2. Also if you are trying to save money, shop around for materials. Learn which materials are "high end" and "low end" and find materials that fit your budget. You'd be surprised what you can find on sale!
Most of all KEEP IT SIMPLE! And have FUN!
Next up: The (tiny) budget...
We've been having an El Nino winter here in Northern California. Although we really need the rain, those rainy-day blues have been keeping us inside. In honor of the rain, I felt the need to paint something blue!
With General Finishes Milk Paint there are so many gorgeous blues to choose from! I decided to do a little ombre using 4 colors: Coastal Blue, Klein Blue, Patina Green and Snow White.
When painting an ombre, colors gradually blend from light to dark. I mixed up 6 variations as a starting point. Using a plastic cupcake-like container, and a measuring tablespoon, I mixed up the following paint ratios:
For the second (touch-up) coat, I added a few drops of Extender to the paint to keep it from drying too quickly while blending. Using a small bit of paint, I worked on blending out any transitions between colors, to make them less obvious.
Once dry, I cleaned up the hardware and handed it off to its happy new owner!
Clean your piece before you paint it!
We've been telling our customers this forever! No matter what type of paint you are going to use, whether its a "minimal prep" paint or not, you must clean your piece before you paint!
What is the best way to do this?
Over the years we've tried and recommended lots of different degreaser cleaners for prepping furniture. Everything from TSP and mineral spirits, to Simple Green and Krud Kutter. We've made all sorts of recommendations and tried different products for different jobs. Some work better than others for certain conditions.
Finally, we've found a way that works under all circumstances! Its easy. And it will always work. Here it is:
You will need the following:
Mix the denatured alcohol 50/50 with water. I like to keep a bunch pre-mixed in a plastic bottle (drip or spray works just fine).
Pour some 50/50 Denatured Alcohol/Water mix on the scotch brite sponge. Scrub your furniture piece with this (all surfaces that you will paint). This breaks down all the old wax, oils, furniture polish and dirt that may be hiding on your piece.
Wipe your piece dry with paper towels (or a lint-free rag). This will also help wipe off the residual dirt/wax/oil that the denatured alcohol just broke down.
Scuff sand with the 220+ grit sandpaper. This does not mean removing all the old finish! It just means wiping the piece down with the sandpaper to scuff up any sheen that might be on it. This is especially important if you have a high gloss surface! Scuff sanding will give the paint something to bite into and hold onto once it dries.
Wipe off the piece with a damp rag to remove any dust that might have formed during scuff sanding.
Now you're ready to paint!
We are very excited to try General Finishes new Chalk Style Paint! The folks at GF were kind enough to send me some samples to try out! A pint of Bone White and Black Pepper arrived the other day and I could not wait to play with them.
Last year at this time I was painting a Mackenzie-Childs style dining room table (think black & white checkers) and I really didn't want to relive the checkered theme. So I decided to try a combo of the Black Pepper Chalk Style Paint and Holiday Red Milk Paint. After all, its the holiday season!
I found it at a local consignment store before they sadly went out of business. It looks like something you would find in a hotel room.
Minimal prep is needed with GF paints! Its one of the things I love most about them. I just scuffed the shiny top with a little 220 grit sand paper. Then I wiped the whole piece off with a mix of rubbing alcohol & water. I recommend using a 50/50 denatured alcohol/water mix. But the rubbing alcohol was what I had on hand. Next I wiped the whole thing down with a damp rag and let it dry. Done.
I then painted the whole table with Holiday Red Milk Paint. As I was working, people passing by kept saying they loved the way it looked! I gently told them that it would not stay this way. One red coat covered very nicely!
Once the red was dry, I took the Black Pepper Chalk Style Paint for a test drive. Covered up all that yummy red goodness on the table legs and base. A few observations about this new paint:
I wanted to do something special to the top of the table. So I brought out one of the new rollers I recently bought from my friend Jennifer at Artistic Painting Studio. (I think these rollers may be my new addiction and will soon require an intervention.)
Because the Chalk Style Paint dries quickly, I decided to add a few drops of extender to it for the next step. The extender keeps it "wet" longer and I wanted time to run the roller through it. I put a nice, heavy wet coat of Black Pepper on the table top, then ran the roller through it, carving through the paint to reveal some of the red.
Once dried, it looked pretty cool! The Chalk Style Paint really has a beautiful, matte finish!
Next, I decided to "wet distress" the Black Pepper Chalk Style Paint to give the table more of a vintage feel. This is a technique that is easy to do with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and I wanted to see how it compared. I used a damp Scotch-brite sponge - the green side to distress, the yellow side to wipe off the residue.
Interestingly, more elbow grease was needed to "wet distress" the Chalk Style Paint than is usually needed to "wet distress" Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. But it still distresses nicely. Also the color doesn't change with burnishing, which is a nice bonus. The Holiday Red Milk Paint underneath remained intact.
Stepping back and looking at the table, I decided I wanted the roller pattern to stand out more on the top. So I ran the roller through a bit of Holiday Red, and went back over the top of the table, applying paint this time instead of removing it. Yes, it was just what was needed. That and some flowers from our nice neighbors at Dandelion Flower Shop (thanks, Karim!).
One of our favorite things to do is to keep old cabinet doors out of landfill! Just think about everyone you know who has done a kitchen or bathroom remodel. What did they do with their old cabinets? Did their contractor take them away and haul them off to the dump? Where do old cabinets go when they die?
I've got a better idea.
Here's a white cabinet door, and some white wooden letters from a craft store. In about 10 minutes, I dry-brushed the cabinet door with some General Finishes Milk Paint and Van Dyke Brown glaze, until it looked like driftwood.
Then I took the wooden letters and painted them in GF Queenstown Grey (milk paint). It sticks really well to the white coating on the letters. Once they dried, I watered down some GF Seagull Grey (milk Paint) and washed over the dark grey and wiped back. Then to get the spotted look of tin, I splashed a few drops of rubbing alcohol on the letters to get the light grey wash to separate.
Once all the paint dried (in about 30 minutes), I scraped some Modern Masters Metal Effects iron paint on the letters. Once it dried, I painted some rust patina on it (also Modern Masters Metal Effects). The next day, it looked rusty!
In the meantime, I found some random knobs (all shiny silver) that needed some character. So with Metal Effects copper and iron paints, some blue patina and rust patina, I transformed them as well.
Put them all together...
My new favorite toy/obsession is Modern Masters Metal Effects (MMME)! These paints come in copper, bronze and iron, and are activated with different patinas that cause them to oxidize and turn beautiful colors. Here is a lizard that I decided to have a little fun with (*note: no lizards were harmed in the making of this blog post!).
Here's a bench we painted using the same technique. The first coat was painted with General Finishes Milk Paint in Brick Red (using a paint brush with lots of random brush strokes). Next a layer of blue (a custom color mix of Milk Paint colors) was scraped over the bench. Finally a layer of Patina Green Milk Paint was scraped over the bench. Each scraped layer is uneven and lets some of the previous colors show through.
Wouldn't this bench look great in your yard? The matching end table (shown in the picture below) was painted the same way. No sanding necessary!
At last! After much help from many friends and family members, we were ready for our grand opening on May 11th, just in time for the Park Street Festival and Mother's day weekend! We had a great time doing demos on the sidewalk in front of Park Street Plaza, handing out loads of postcards to people attending the festival, and introducing people to our new space and workshops! Much thanks to all who stopped by.
For those who are looking for us, we are located inside Park Street Plaza. Some locals will remember when this used to be Pillow Park Plaza - a large furniture store. The space is no longer a furniture store, but has been transformed into a beautiful, European-style plaza with several small stores inside. You will find us at the end of the hallway - straight in front of you when you walk through the entrance from Park Street. Lanvie clothing store is in the front of the plaza, and on June 8th, Aphrodite's Closet will be re-opening in a beautiful new space next door to us! A few other stores will be opening in the future, so stay tuned!
If you're in Alameda, stop by and say hello!
Here are some more pictures from our grand opening...