Somehow gardening season always seems to sneak up on me. And when I say gardening season, I don’t exactly mean that it’s time to get out in the garden, more that it’s time to get some garden themed merchandise ready to bring into the shop where I sell on consignment, and that happens a tad earlier than actual gardening season.
This year it really feels like it has snuck up on me with temps in the 70’s over the weekend. That’s not exactly typical for the first weekend of April in Minnesota. I have to keep reminding myself that it is only early April, there is still plenty of spring left. We really don’t even plant out our annuals here for six more weeks (unless you’re one of those risk takers who plants early and hopes there isn’t a frost).
Anyway, I took full advantage of the warm weather and I painted outside on Saturday! It’s amazing how much more I can accomplish in a day when I can spread out multiple projects to work on. I just don’t have the space for that inside the house.
Some of you may remember that I purchased this pair of old chairs last year …
This was one of those cases where I totally overpaid for something. I paid $10 each, and these chairs should have been on someone’s burn pile (ie. free). There are several missing pieces, including the cane seats on both. Plus by the time I got them home, one of the legs had even broken off! But I wanted to turn them into planter chairs, so they don’t have to be sturdy enough to sit in, just sturdy enough to hold a plant. And I loved that empty canvas of space on the chair backs. So I splurged (OK, it’s maybe a little silly to consider $10 a splurge) on them.
By the way, if you are new to my blog and don’t know what I mean by ‘planter chair’, here is one I painted up last year.
Chairs without seats can usually be found dirt cheap, and they are perfect for holding a large hanging basket of flowering annuals. Although usually I choose chairs that are in better shape than this pair!
Step one was finding just the right stencil to use on those nice, big backs. I went through my stash and was once again reminded that a good garden themed stencil is hard to find. I had nothing. So I went on Etsy and did some searching. I ended up ordering two stencils from The Stencil Market on Etsy. I paid just under $22 total for both of them (including shipping), and the seller shipped them super fast which was awesome because I had them by the weekend and was able to finish up my chairs.
The prep was a little bit more work than usual on these chairs. First of all, they went over to my handyman Ken’s workshop for some regluing and repair of that broken leg. Then I sanded them quite a bit more than usual because they had a very dried out, flaking finish on them. Then I cleaned them using Dixie Belle’s White Lightning Cleaner. This cleaner is a trisodium phosphate (TSP) product. TSP is toxic and should be handled with care. If you want to get some legit info on TSP, you can see what Bob Vila has to say about the pros and cons of using TSP here. This is why I usually use a TSP substitute cleaner rather than the real thing. But these chairs were so gross that I thought they warranted breaking out the White Lightning. If you ever use it, be sure to follow all of the safety precautions on the label.
I went with two different sorts of looks on these chairs. Let’s start with the neutral, farmhouse-y look. I painted this one in Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky and then added the Fresh Flowers stencil using Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.
I couldn’t fit the entire stencil on the back, but I felt like it didn’t need the words “fresh cut” for this purpose anyway.
I like to use Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide as a finish on my planter chairs to give them a little more protection from the elements. It definitely has a shinier finish than my usual top coats.
I’ve seen quite a few comments from people that have had some difficulty with it looking streaky over black, so here’s today’s q-tip. The solution to that is to mix a little bit of your paint color in with the Gator Hide. I did that here and it worked perfectly. I wasn’t sure if that mix would look streaky over the white lettering though, so I did that area first with clear Gator Hide.
For the second chair I once again decided to go with a brilliant pop of color.
First, a little background. Remember the dresser I recently painted in Flamingo? I didn’t mention in that post that I made an attempt to do some color mixing for that piece. I wanted the color to be a deeper coral. The Dixie Belle website suggests mixing Flamingo and Peony to create ‘coral’, so I just jumped in with both feet (I should have tested it in a small quantity first) and mixed up about a cup of this color. The resulting color was quite a bit more pink than I wanted (I suggest adding their Barn Red to Flamingo to make a deeper coral color). Here’s a quick comparison of the Flamingo straight up (on left) and the Flamingo mixed with Peony (on right).
Yep, that’s a lot more pink I think.
Anyway, I ended up just using Flamingo on its own for that dresser, but rather than toss that cup of mixed paint I used it on chair number two.
Yep, that’s definitely a pop of color!
Wouldn’t it be gorgeous with a huge basket of brightly color annuals though? Or, you could add a basket of white geraniums for a slightly more subtle look.
I used Dixie Belle’s Fluff for the stenciling on this one because I wanted more of a true white as opposed to the creamy white of Drop Cloth.
Isn’t that stencil sweet? It was perfect for a planter chair.
This chair also got a top coat of clear Gator Hide.
Let’s just chat a minute about durability. Although I gave these chairs their best shot with that Gator Hide, they were originally manufactured for indoor use. They will hold up for a couple of seasons, more if you store them inside over the winter and add a fresh coat of clear sealer each spring (you could even just use a spray poly for that) and also more if you use them on a semi-protected porch. But that being said, they won’t last forever outside. The glued joints won’t hold up. But who cares? They were ready for the scrap heap anyway, so just use them for a couple of years and then toss them when they start falling apart. That’s what I do anyway 😉
It’s a bit early for baskets of annuals here in Minnesota, so you’re just going to have to use your imagination to envision these chairs with big pots of flowers in them. But can’t you just see it?
So which one is your favorite? Are you loving that pop of color? Or would you prefer the more dignified classic black and white? My neighbor nnK thinks the pink one will sell more quickly than the black one, but I think it will be the other way around. I’ll keep you posted on that.
These are both available for sale locally, so if any of you locals could use a planter chair this year check out the details on my available for local sale page.
As always, thank you to Dixie Belle for providing their products used for this project.