the fine print.

I picked up this dresser at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore a few weeks ago while out thrifting with my friend/picker Sue.

It felt very much like a blank slate to me.  I knew it would be pretty with the top stripped, and the bottom painted.  There were a few ideas that went through my head from there, but then I saw this photo …

I love that look!  I know it may not be to everyone’s taste (sometimes I feel like I’m the only one out there who still loves toile), but I thought it was gorgeous.  That is another of the new IOD paint inlays called Grisaille Toile on the front of that dresser.  I immediately thought that this would be the perfect look for my piece.  So I ordered the paint inlay online.  While I waited for it to arrive, I stripped the top of my dresser, and prepped and painted the base in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.

I was basically going for the same look as on the example piece above.

I was super excited waiting for my package to arrive.  And FYI, I ordered from The Painted Heirloom.  My order arrived promptly and I would certainly order from her again.  The paint inlays were on sale for $38.40 (and last I checked they still are) and shipping was $2.95 for orders over $100 (and free for orders over $150).  I added some Homestead House milk paint (including more of their fabulous Soldier Blue) to my order to bring it over $100.

I pulled the paint inlay out of the package and trimmed off all of the edges as per the instructions (for my complete tutorial on applying a paint inlay, click here).  I then laid out the sheets trying to match up the edges to create a cohesive design to fit across the front of my dresser.  And that’s when things went haywire.  I just couldn’t figure out how to lay out the design at 4 sheets wide by 2 sheets tall and still match up the repeat (think of wallpapering).

I had made the assumption, based on that photo above, that I would be able to use it that way.

Turns out that in order to go wider than two sheets of the paint inlay, you have to have more than one packet (and even at $38.40, these things aren’t cheap).  Clearly I should have read the fine print!

To save any of you from making the same mistake, here is a helpful graphic that I found online.

You can do 2 sheets wide by 4 sheets tall.  Or you can do 8 sheets wide by 1 sheet tall.  You can not do 4 sheets wide by 2 sheets tall without using multiple packs.

So, now I have the Grisaille Toile inlay in my stash of supplies waiting for another project that it might work on.  I’ll have to find a tall narrow piece because I can’t see myself ever wanting to put over $80 worth of paint inlays on one piece of furniture.  OK, it would be one thing if I was doing a piece for myself.  In that case I might splurge in this way, but if you’re painting furniture to sell and trying to make some sort of a profit, this is a non-starter (in my opinion).

Back to the drawing board.  I still had my dresser ready to go with a stripped top and a body painted in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  So I gave some thought to how I could create a similar look using supplies that I already had on hand.  I started by going through my stencils and pulling out the Dixie Belle Royal Damask stencil.

Then I tested out a couple of different paint colors for stenciling over the Drop Cloth on a test board.

I decided that using Dixie Belle’s Sawmill Gravy would give me a look very similar to the example piece, at least color-wise, plus I preferred how subtle it was compared to the Burlap.

As I was stenciling the front of the dresser I was reminded of the benefits of using a stencil rather than a transfer or paint inlay.  You can cover as much square footage as you need with a stencil at no extra cost.  You can use whatever paint color you want to.  If you mess up, you can just paint over it and start again without any additional outlay of cash.  You can re-use a stencil over and over on other pieces, thus bringing the cost per use way down.  So at $24.95, this stencil is a much better buy than the paint inlay.  Just sayin’

Today’s stenciling q tip:  when working with an overall pattern like this be sure to start stenciling in the center of your piece and then work your way out on either side.  This way your finished design will be symmetrical.

Once I had the front of the piece stenciled, I sanded the edges of the dresser with 120 grit sandpaper to distress them and then sanded all of the flat areas with 220 grit to smooth them out.  I then added a top coat of clear wax.

For the top of the dresser, I had already stripped it using CitriStrip, so I simply sanded it smooth and then finished it with some white wax.

I toyed with the idea of adding a more modern hardware to this dresser.  Unfortunately, all of the options that I found online that I thought would work were out of stock.  Have you tried finding inexpensive hardware lately?  Is it just me, or is it hard to come by?

I felt like the drawer pulls and key hole escutcheons that came on the piece were just a tad over the top, so I decided to try toning them down with a little paint.  I didn’t want to give them a solid coat of paint though.

So I made a wash of the Dixie Belle Drop Cloth paint by mixing water and paint about 50/50.  I painted that on the hardware, making sure it was in all of the crevices, and let it dry.  Then I used a damp cloth to remove the paint from all of the high points.  I followed that up with some clear wax.

I like the look of painted hardware that has been worn down over time.

I also like the subtlety of the almost tone on tone look of the Sawmill Gravy over the Drop Cloth …

and that sort of washed out, beachy vibe from the pale colors paired with the white waxed top.

I also think the fine print of this stencil gives a more delicate look than had I used the Grisaille Toile inlay.

Personally, I feel like there is pretty much no contest between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of this dresser.  That ambered oak finish had to go.

What do you think?

If you’re local and in need of a dresser, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for details on this piece.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for supplying the paint and stencil used on this project.

50 thoughts on “the fine print.

  1. This piece turned out just great. Personally I think it’s better than if you’d used the paint inlay. Using the natural wood as accents on top with the white wax is the perfect combination to go with the “faded” stencil you did.
    I’m saving this as inspiration for a hope chest I inherited and plan to make over, thank you.
    And as for out of stock items, I’m finding it difficult to find everything to complete home projects. Had to go to 2 Menards, 1 Home Depot and order off Amazon to finish a plumbing / electrical project.


    1. It’s crazy isn’t it? When I was out at my mom’s house I wanted to paint her front door for her, but wasn’t able to get paint in a dark color at her Lowe’s. I thought the guy was pulling my leg or something, but no, they literally could not get the base paint for mixing dark colors.


  2. Excellent choice of colors and stencil. I think you achieved the look you envisioned and created a heirloom piece. Subtle tone on tone is your friend – goes with many decorating styles and color palettes. And I’m happy you kept the original hardware. Yes it is much improved.


  3. I love the tone on tone look, even better than the inlay. It turned out great! I must say, though, that I am still an antique oak fan when the finish is in great shape. I love to paint furniture, but I do admit to still loving original oak pieces!


    1. LOL, I laughed when I saw your ‘name’. So … I’m curious. When you say you love original oak pieces would that have included this one in its ‘before’ state? Or are you envisioning something that has aged more gracefully (and with less orange)? I have to admit, I’m not that familiar with antique oak and now I want to learn more.


  4. This piece is lovely! I’m curious how long it takes to stencil. Do you have to wait for each one to dry before you move on?


    1. It doesn’t take long to stencil at all. Yes, you do have to wait for each one to dry before you move on to avoid smearing your paint, but you use very little paint when stenciling so it really only takes a minute or two for the paint to dry (when using a fast drying chalk style paint like this Dixie Belle paint). I am quite sure it would have taken much longer to do the paint inlay, and definitely much longer to apply a large transfer as well.


      1. Thanks! That’s very helpful! Never thought it would dry so fast. I have never attempted stenciling, but maybe now I will!


  5. It’s beautiful! Reminds me of lace. While the paint inlays seem to be an amazing new option for creating, I think your stencil version turned out so much better! Love the subtle colors and how you updated the hardware!


    1. I’m in agreement with you on all of the above Cheryl. I think the paint inlays are fun to play around with, and I’m sure I’ll find something to put that Grisaille Toile on, but I’m just as happy with the stencil on this one 🙂


  6. Love it!! It is soft and subtle and the hardware redo is perfect. You continue to inspire and I appreciate the budget awareness. I purchase hardware at the Restore and often Lee Valley (Canadian site) has a good sale section.


    1. Good tips on finding hardware Laura. So, funny side note, my friend/picker Sue and I stopped off at our local ReStore on Wednesday and I had made a mental note to specifically look at their hardware selection … and they were closed! Not sure why, they usually are open on Wednesday. The sign simply said ‘closed, open tomorrow’. So … maybe next time I make it out there I will find some hardware to stock up on!


  7. I liked this so much more than your inspiration piece. Lovely and delicate for a large piece of furniture. Great job!!


  8. I love it, and I personally think the handles are the highlight. I wondered if you’ve heard of or used wallpaper paint rollers?


      1. LOL. I have no idea, but there is a British company that makes gorgeous ones. Someone can work them well enough to decorate lamp shades and pieces of furniture, but they don’t say how many attempts that person took before they had perfection. Walls would probably be the easiest.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh Miss Quandie! This is soooo pretty! I just love it! And I love the way you can see that beauty just begging to come out…….I don’t think that the pulls are over the top at all and look perfect but if you HAD found more modern ones you probably would have convinced me that THEY were perfect……..I’m a Quandie “sheep”! Hahahahahaha. And it has little wheels! I love them…… 😀


    1. LOL, Mr. Q always says lemmings rather than sheep. I always thought lemmings were fictional until I took a trip to Norway with my mom and someone pointed out a lemming crossing the road. Well, either way, sheep or lemming, I’m glad you’re a regular reader and commentor here on my blog!


  10. Although I am partial to toile, I love the look of the dresser as you envisioned it – Gorgeous! I def need to try white wax on a stripped top.


  11. I love this pretty dresser and especially love what you did with the hardware. The stencil is lovely and elegant. The inlay is beautiful and I look forward to seeing what you end up using it on.


  12. Well, that’s kind of crummy that you have to buy two sets to get the look on the example piece. That said, your piece is just so charming. I used to love stenciling. You are not the only one who loves toile, I got really excited when I saw your inspiration piece! That is really gorgeous. I always look forward to your makeovers.


    1. Thanks Sue! I should have done a better job of researching this particular inlay BEFORE I purchased it, and thus read the fine print that says you can’t do a 4 sheet wide by 2 sheet tall area using one package. But, I’m passing that knowledge on to you guys so you don’t make the same mistake.


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