Saturday morning coffee.

It finally feels like spring is here, and you know what that means?  Garage sale season is coming!

Since I have a 9 to 5 day job, I have to do all of my garage saling on Saturday mornings.  So I only have a few more Saturdays that I can spend lounging about with a cup of coffee and my favorite books and magazines.  Starting the first weekend in May I’ll be getting up early and heading out to hit the sales.

So this past Saturday morning I took some time to chill out, enjoy the sunshine streaming in through the windows and get some photos of the coffee table I just finished up before my sister and I headed out to Junk Bonanza in the afternoon.

I purchased this table way back in January, brrrrrr ….

and I’ve basically been working on it in bits and pieces since then.

I’ve refurbished a few of these tables in the past.  Usually I remove the drop leaves and turn them into signs and then use the table without the leaves as a desk.  I have one in my Q Branch and Mr. Q has one in his study as well.  I also have one on my front porch with casters on it that I use for staging close up photos of random small stuff.

Although I still removed the leaves and turned them into signs, this time I decided to try something different with the rest of the table.  With the help of my handyman Ken, I converted it to coffee table height.

Since I wanted to keep the detail on the lower part of each leg, I removed all of the legs and then Ken cut them down from the top and re-attached them to the table.  I neglected to get a photo of that before I added a coat of paint, so you’ll see that in a minute.  But before I painted, I stripped the top of the table.

Since it was winter in Minnesota, I had to do this inside my house.  I like to use Citristrip for that simply because it’s safe for indoor use.  I like to avoid using any toxic chemicals inside the house, and I try to keep sanding to a minimum inside as well.

Here’s the top after cleaning off the stripper.

Once that was done, I flipped the table over onto some horses and started painting the base.  I began with a coat of Fusion acrylic paint in Inglenook or maybe that’s Little Tea Pot.  To tell the truth I did this part so long ago I don’t remember!

The existing finish on the table was pretty shiny, so most likely milk paint would not have adhered well without a lot of sanding prep work.  Since I wasn’t in the mood to sand those legs (ie. was feeling lazy), I used Fusion for the first coat of paint instead.

Next I applied some of the Homestead House Salad Bowl Wax to various spots as a resist, and then added a coat of Sweet Pickins’ In a Pickle.  You can see the spots where the wax resisted the milk paint.

Next I added more Salad Bowl Wax to other spots to resist my final paint color which was Miss Mustard Seed’s Shutter Gray.

After that dried, I sanded lightly to distress and then added clear wax.  Here is the result.

After that it was time to flip the table back over and work on the top some more.  I started by sanding the stripped wood with 220 grit sandpaper.   Then, looking at the wood closely, I realized that I didn’t like the color of it.  It still had a bit of a yellow/orange cast to it.  What I wanted was more of a washed out, driftwood sort of look.

So I decided to white wash it using watered down Dixie Belle paint in Drop Cloth (see this post for more detail on white washing).  I just used one coat of watered down paint.  One that was dry, I sanded lightly, wiped away any dust and then added a coat of Dixie Belle’s clear wax.

I felt like the piece looked a little too fresh and new at that point so I pulled out Dixie Belle’s new Grunge Gray wax.  Dixie Belle sent a can of this wax my way to give it a try.  I used to make my own grey wax by mixing black and white wax, but this is so much easier.

As with all colored waxes, if you want a heavier application of the color you can apply the wax directly to your bare wood (or over a painted surface).  If you want more subtle results wax your surface with clear wax first.

When using a new product for the very first time, I always recommend testing it on an old board like I did with the Grunge Gray wax.  That way you can get a feel for how it looks and the best way to apply it before you get it on your piece of furniture. 

I already had that coat of Dixie Belle clear wax over my white washed table top so I got a more subtle result from the Grunge Gray wax.

I really worked the Grunge wax into the creases on the edges of the table.

I ended up with a table top that has that sort weathered gray appearance of a piece that has been left out in the elements for a while.

 It makes a great spot for a little Saturday morning coffee, don’t you think?

If any of you local readers need a spot to enjoy your coffee (sunshine not included), be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

lighten up already.

You’ve probably heard the terms ‘cerused’, ‘lime waxed’, ‘pickled’ or ‘white washed’.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wondered what the difference is between them.

Well, I did some slapdash online research and today I’m here to clear that up for you.

First of all, all of these treatments are designed to lighten up the look of a wood surface without covering up the grain.  They just achieve that in different ways.

How to ceruse or lime wax wood.

Let’s start with ‘cerused’ or ‘lime waxed’.  These two are basically the same thing.  According to gohaus.com:  Back in the 1500’s, the French invented a technique of filling in the grains in oak beams and paneling with a toxic paste derived from lead. This was initially done to help prevent rot in oak beams. … Today that stylish finish is still called limed oak in Europe and here in the US we call it cerused wood or cerused oak.

Oak is the best wood for a cerused or lime waxed look because it has an open grain that gives the best effect, however you can use this treatment on other woods like pine or maple.  You just won’t see quite as much definition in the grain.

Instead of using a toxic paste derived from lead (ewwwww), I recommend using a much more environmentally friendly white wax such as the Miss Mustard Seed or Homestead House white wax (same thing, different labels).  I know there are other manufacturers of white wax out there (if you have a favorite, feel free to share that info in a comment), but be sure to pay attention to the ingredients of your wax before using it indoors or without gloves.  To read more about the safety of wax products check out this post.  I like that fact that the Miss Mustard Seed and Homestead House waxes don’t contain any aromatic hydrocarbons (cancer causing particles that are present in some other brands of wax).

To prep your surface for lime waxing first strip off any existing finish.  I like to use Citristrip for this, but if you’re a sander instead of a stripper you can go that route too.  If you use a chemical stripper be sure to neutralize the surface with some vinegar water afterwards and then rinse with clear water.  Either way, you want to be sure to completely remove any previous finish.

The next step is to raise the grain of your wood.  The recommended technique is to use something called a bronze brush to brush the wood in the direction of the grain.  You may be wondering, why not just your basic steel brush?  That’s because steel particles that might be left behind can cause oxidization in your wood which will show up as black streaks over time (read this article for more detail).  By the way, did you know that the same is true of using steel wool on wood furniture?  I have a feeling that someone probably used either a steel brush or steel wool on a dresser I worked on a few months ago.

I don’t happen to own a bronze brush though, and I don’t want to invest in one just for lime waxing.  So I read somewhere that you can scrub your wood with a green 3M scotch pad and a little water to get a similar effect.  Also, this step is optional.  The purpose of raising the grain is to give the wax more spots to get stuck in, ie. to emphasis the grain more.  If that’s not a big deal to you, you can just skip this step.

Next work the wax into your wood.  You can use a wax brush or a cloth for this.  Start with a circular motion to get the wax worked into the wood.  Follow up with a clean cloth moving with the grain to remove any excess wax, switching to a clean section of cloth as it becomes clogged with wax.

And that’s it.  Pretty simple, right?  It’s kind of hard to go wrong with this technique.  Since the wax is a protective top coat in itself, you avoid the extra step of having to add a topcoat.

You can mix white wax with clear wax if you want less white.  You can add a second coat of white wax if you want more white.

I used the Homestead House white wax on the top of this table.

 

How to white wash or pickle wood.

White washing or pickling gives a similar look but is done with either watered down white paint or a commercially made white wash or pickling stain.  According to my research, white washing and pickling are very similar treatments but not exactly the same thing.  When a piece is white washed, the stain or paint is applied with the grain and is best suited for woods like pine.  When a piece is pickled, the stain or paint is applied against the grain and this treatment is best suited for oak.  Personally I think that’s a rather fine distinction and that most people use these two terms interchangeably.

The prep process for white washing or pickling is the same as for lime waxing, and once again you can choose to raise the grain or not.

For the next step you can either use a white washing or pickling stain, or watered down white paint.  If you plan to use watered down paint, I recommend preparing your solution and testing it on a spare piece of wood first.  Actually, wait a minute, I recommend testing the stain first too now that I think about it.  The ratio of paint to water is going to depend somewhat on how opaque you want it to look so a little experimenting before you start your project will really pay off.  You can use any kind of water based paint for this technique, I like to use chalk paint.

Next liberally apply the stain or watered down paint to your piece with a brush allowing a minute or two for it to soak in, then use a rag to wipe away the excess.  You’ll go through a lot of rags, so be sure to have them on hand and ready to go.  I used heavy duty paper towels when I white washed my cedar dining room table.

As you can see, white washing tones down the orange color of the cedar but still allows the characteristics of the wood to show (the knots and grain).

Once your paint or stain is fully dry, sand your piece with a fine grit sandpaper.  Finally with this method you’ll also need to add your protective top coat of choice.  I used Miss Mustard Seed’s clear furniture wax on my table.

You can read more detail on the white washing process I used on my dining room table here.

I hoped you’ve learned a thing or two about white washing v. lime waxing today.  Check back later on Wednesday when I’ll share a piece where I used both techniques together.  Sort of.  In the meantime, be sure to pin this post for future reference!

 

the spring fling dresser.

We’re still recovering from the ridiculous amount of snow we got last weekend, but things are looking up weather-wise here in the Twin Cities, we might even hit 60 by Sunday.  I am suffering from a very serious case of garage sale withdrawal, so I’m chomping at the bit for some spring!

I thought I would nudge it along a little bit with a spring fling in the form of a garden themed dresser.

I shared the beginning of the journey of today’s dresser with you guys on Wednesday.  This dresser just insisted on being something other than what I first imagined.  After several failed attempts to salvage a milk paint finish, I threw in the towel and decided to start over again.

As a reminder, when we last left the dresser it looked like this.

The first thing that you have to understand is that any remaining chippy paint is going to leave a texture on the surface of the dresser if you just paint over it.  In addition, whatever you put over that remaining paint may ultimately chip off as well.  The adherence of your final paint layer is only as good as the adherence of what is under it.   So the first thing I had to do was make a choice between just sanding off the loose chips, or doing a heavier sanding and removing all of the milk paint entirely.

I went with with the former.  I used my orbital sander and a 120 grit paper to remove as much of the chipping paint as I could knowing that the remaining bits of paint would add some texture to my piece.

There were several ways I could have proceeded from there that most likely would have worked well.  I could have stuck with my original milk paint plan and simply added bonding agent to my paint to make it adhere to the surface of this piece better.  Unfortunately, I had already used up almost an entire bag of both the Homestead House Texas Rose and the Miss Mustard Seed Linen.  I did not have enough of either color left to start over with them (and I also don’t happen to have any more bonding agent on hand either).

Another option would have been to paint a base coat of acrylic or chalk paint over the entire piece and then add a layer of milk paint without bonding agent.  The chalk or acrylic paint would have adhered to the dresser, and the milk paint would have adhered to the chalk/acrylic paint.  Again though, I didn’t have enough of the Miss Mustard Seed Linen paint to go that route.

So I decided to just move on to chalk paint, and to switch up my color scheme a bit as well.  I started with an undercoat of two green shades of Dixie Belle paint, Kudzu and Mint Julep.

I wanted the Kudzu (the darker green) to show through some distressing on the edges, but I didn’t have enough Kudzu to paint the entire piece.  Since I hadn’t gotten all of the milk paint off the piece, I knew I would have some texture from what was left and an undercoat would show when I sanded those areas too, so I wanted to have a shade of green there as well.  Luckily I also had a bit of Mint Julep on hand.

In the end, I decided to paint the inside drawers in the Mint Julep as well.

And I’m so glad I did because it adds the prettiest pop of color when you open the doors.

But before I got to that, I painted two coats of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth (paint compliments of Dixie Belle) over the exterior.  Drop Cloth is a warm off-white.  Then I added one of my absolute favorite Iron Orchid Designs transfers (transfer compliments of Prima Marketing) to the front of the piece.

You can sort of see what I mean about the undercoat of green coming through in that photo above, right?  By the way, you can order this transfer online at Scrapbook.com here.  When I looked last night it was on sale for $17.99, which is a great price.

The thing that I really love about these furniture transfers is that they are sized for furniture.  I love the way this one fills up the entire front of the dresser (this is the large version of this transfer, there is also a smaller version available and you can see it on this piece).

And in fact, the large transfer was actually a tad too long so I cut off the “1871.” and put it on the trim at the back of the dresser top.

This is the 4th time I’ve used the larger version of the transfer and each time I have absolutely loved the results.  You can see the other three pieces here, here and here.

Once I had applied the transfer, I waxed this piece with Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Wax over both the Drop Cloth and the Mint Julep Dixie Belle paint, as well as over the transfer.  Yes, you can definitely was over a rub-on transfer.

By the way, I almost forgot to mention.  This dresser came with a key!

It’s really quite rare to have the key, and locks that still function.

Do you ever wonder about these old pieces with locking drawers?  It seems like all of the pieces from this era had them.  What did people lock up in them?  Money?  Their last will and testament?  Their secret diary?  Their hidden stash of chocolate?  Today it seems laughable that you would lock something up in a drawer and feel like it was secure, doesn’t it?

I swapped out the original wooden knobs for some pretty glass knobs.  I buy these knobs in bulk from D Lawless Hardware.  I am exaggerating only slightly when I say ‘in bulk’, but I do order them by the dozen so that I always have them on hand.  I also buy three different sizes.  This is the middle size, or 1 1/4″.

I love using the glass knobs on pieces with the transfers because they disappear a bit and don’t interfere with the detail of the transfer itself.

Here’s one more look at that pretty pop of mint green on the inner drawers.

And there you have it.  It may not be milk paint, but I still think it turned out beautiful in the end.

 If you need a garden themed linen press dresser and you live near the Twin Cities, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

a complete and total fraud.

Remember the pretty sea glass dressing table that I shared a couple of weeks ago?  I mentioned at the time that there were three pieces that I picked up together that night.  Today I’m sharing a story about the 2nd piece, a linen press dresser.

There are four more drawers behind those doors.  Whenever a dresser has drawers behind doors I call it a linen press.  I’m not sure if that is technically accurate, but it works for me.

Since I had so much fun layering milk paint on the desk I painted during milk paint madness week, I decided to try that again on this piece.

So I began with removing the knobs, sanding the piece, cleaning it well and then painting a base coat of Homestead House milk paint in Texas Rose.  I painted the entire outside of the piece, as well as the four inner drawers, both inside and out.  My plan was to use the Texas Rose as a base coat under some Miss Mustard Seed Linen on the outside, but leave the inner drawers in this pretty rosy color.

I’d never used this color before, so before I started I painted a test board in it and tried out a couple of different top coat options.  As you can see, the topcoat can really make a difference in the look of this color.  I wanted to see what my options looked like before I made a decision.

Before moving on to my final color, the Linen, I decided to layer another color under it.  I went through my mostly used bags of milk paint to see what I had and pulled out Homestead House’s Upper Canada Green.  I only had a couple of tablespoons of this paint left, so I mixed it up.  I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to show you what I mean when I tell you to let your milk paint sit for 5 – 10 minutes to be sure all of the pigments are dissolved.

Here is how the paint looked before any mixing at all, just the water and the powder in a cup.

See all of those flecks of blue pigment floating around?  They still need to dissolve.

Here’s is the paint after an initial stir …

You can still see a few darker flecks of color and the overall color is pretty yellowish.

But after waiting five minutes and giving it another stir, you start to see true color of the Upper Canada Green as those blue pigments are finally dissolving.

You can see why you don’t want to start painting before those pigments are all fully dissolved.  You can end up with an entirely different color.

OK.  So you might be wondering at this point why I have mixed up a couple of tablespoons of my next color since this is clearly not going to be enough paint for the entire thing.

This is another little trick I want to show you.  I had someone comment that they hated wasting milk paint for a layer of color that was barely going to show on the finished piece.  I totally get that.  So here’s what you do.  Instead of painting the entire piece in your second color, just paint it over the areas where you want to see it peeking through your distressing/chipping.

So far, so good, or so I thought.

The paint looks pretty well adhered in that photo, doesn’t it?  There were a couple of chippy spots on the legs, but that was about it.

However, fast forward about 18 hours.  The next morning the dresser was chipping pretty much everywhere.  Ugh.  I decided all was not lost, I would just sand it well to get all of the chipping paint off and create a better base for the final color.  So I sanded, vacuumed and then painted on a coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen.

As the Linen started to dry I could see that it was continuing to chip.  In fact, it was chipping even more than before.  And it was chipping all the way down to the wood.  My work applying the layered colors was all just flaking right off.

Ugh.  This was the moment when I felt like a complete and total fraud.  I’d just spent a full week here on my blog proclaiming to be an expert on milk paint and now my own milk paint project was turning into a complete disaster.  Was this the universe’s way of keeping me humble?  Reminding me that I don’t know everything and no matter how much experience I have with milk paint it can still totally backfire on me.

I was mentally beating myself up and wanting to just kick the dresser to the curb.  Suddenly a bonfire seemed like a great idea.

Or maybe I could just hide the dresser under a sheet and never mention it to anyone.  I told Mr. Q I was going to sand it down, paint it with chalk paint and never, ever tell anyone that I’d initially tried to paint it with milk paint and it was a complete failure.

  Instead I did what I usually do in these situations.  I walked away.  I pushed the dresser into a corner and decided to give it a couple of days to think about its behavior.

In the meantime Mr. Q reminded me that I’ve painted well over 100 pieces of furniture with milk paint and this chipping situation has only happened to me a few times (see them here, here and here).  He also suggested that sharing this experience with you guys was the right thing to do.  If it happens to me, it probably happens to other people too.

I really don’t know what was on this piece that caused it to chip like this.  I did prep it properly.  If anything, I sanded and cleaned it more thoroughly than I usually do.  I guess 4 times out of over one hundred or so pieces aren’t terribly bad odds.

A few days later I pulled the dresser out of its corner and I thought to myself ‘you know, that chipping is a little extreme, but some people love a really chippy finish.’  I thought that perhaps if I just added one more coat of the Linen milk paint I could make it work.

Can you guess what happened?  Sigh.  Yep, it chipped even more, if that’s even possible.  Literally to the point that there was very little paint left.  I have run into this phenomenon before, each added layer of paint activating even more chipping.

After knocking off all of the loose paint, this is what was left.

Milk paint just wasn’t meant to be with this piece.

I decided not to throw it on the bonfire, but instead to start over from square one.  After all, under all of that chipping paint is still an adorable linen press dresser that is in great shape.  You’ll have to wait until Friday to see the end result though.  I hope you’ll check back then.  But in the meantime, how about you?  Have you had any colossal paint disasters?  Please tell me I’m not the only one.

 

the laundry co.

Here it is mid-April in the Twin Cities and winter is still going strong.  I’ve been so patiently waiting for signs of spring.  But lately it seems like just when enough snow melts for us to see the ground, another round comes in.

This past weekend the snow started Friday night, we had blizzard conditions by Saturday afternoon and the snow continued to fall until sometime after midnight last night.  I believe we broke some records and got well over a foot of snow.

But on the bright side, it was a weekend.  So we didn’t have to go anywhere, which left us with plenty of time to just hang out at home and binge watch some Norwegian TV.  Mr. Q and I got through all of season 1 and halfway through season 2 of Okkupert (Occupied).  Somehow it seemed appropriate to be watching this show while the snow came down.  But the weather also gave me a great opportunity to work on some projects.

One of the projects I worked on was updating an old wooden ironing board.  I’d painted it several years ago with black chalkboard paint and tried to sell it at a couple of my occasional sales, and there just weren’t any takers.  So it ended up shoved in the back of the carriage house.  Out of sight, out of mind.

But then Prima Marketing sent me some of their new re.design transfers including the design called ‘Laundry’ (in the middle).

It was the perfect size to add to the old ironing board and turn it into a sign.

I started out by painting over the black chalkboard paint with a coat of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Shutter Grey.  Then I used some Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish to create a resist (read more about that technique here) and then added two coats of Homestead House milk paint in Raw Silk which is a white with a grey undertone.

Once the paint was thoroughly dry, I added the transfer following the directions provided in the packaging.

 After the transfer was in place, I sanded it very lightly with 220 grit sandpaper and then added a top coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax.

The transfer was the perfect size for my ironing board.

I set up a little laundry folding scene against the designated blank wall in my piano room.  Some bloggers might have been able to stage a laundry sign in their fabulous, light filled laundry rooms.  Not me.  My laundry facilities are in my ancient 100+ year old dark basement complete with damp concrete walls and cobwebs we can’t keep up with.

I wish I had a pretty spot like this for folding my laundry down there.

I have so many tablecloths to fold …

Don’t these vintage linens have the most gorgeous colors?

I won’t be hanging on to the laundry co ironing board since I don’t have a spot for it that will do it justice.

If you’re local and you have a nice blank wall in your laundry room that would be perfect for a vintage ironing board turned sign, be sure to check out my available for local sale page for more details.

In the meantime, we’ll be here shoveling out from the storm, watching the rest of Occupied and hoping that spring really is coming this year.  Eventually.

photo finish friday.

Hey, I bet you guys thought I forgot all about Photo Finish Friday!

With all of the hubbub over milk paint madness week, it sort of fell to the bottom of the priority list. But it’s back!

My first photo finish Friday blog post was all about composition, while today’s photo finish subject is white balance.  White balance is a very important part of photography, especially so when you want to correctly represent colors in your photos.  It’s also something that I struggle with all of the time.  I am constantly correcting, and re-correcting, the white balance in my photos!

All light is not created equal.  In fact, lighting has color depending upon its source.  Lighting from an incandescent bulb will be more yellow or orange, while fluorescent lighting will be bluer.

We can also talk about light in terms of temperature.  Incandescent lighting is warm, fluorescent lighting is cool.  Outdoor lighting changes throughout the day depending on the angle of the sun, whether or not it is overcast, or things it reflects off of (like snow, or the side of a big red barn).

However, our eyes (or maybe technically it’s our brains) have the magical ability to automatically adjust the white balance of what we are looking at without us even being aware of it.  That ends up being one of the trickiest aspects of white balance.  Sometimes our brains adjust for it and we don’t even notice that the white balance in our photos is off.  So be sure to take the time to really scrutinize your photos.

There are two easy ways to control white balance; using the white balance settings on your camera and using photo editing software to adjust the white balance of your photo in post processing.

Let’s start with setting the white balance on your camera.  Most cameras will have a white balance setting.  Even my smartphone, which isn’t all that smart because it’s ancient, has a white balance setting.  If you don’t know how to change the white balance on your camera (or whatever you are using as a camera), now is the time to figure that out.  I recommend googling it.  For me that’s the easiest way to get a quick answer on where a setting might be located on my camera.

Typically your camera will have an automatic white balance setting and a few settings for specific lighting conditions both indoors and out.  Those usually include incandescent (or Tungsten), fluorescent, cloudy, sunny, shady and possibly a few more.  Most cameras I’ve seen use the same, or similar, icons for their white balance settings.

The incandescent setting is best for traditional household light bulbs.  The fluorescent setting will prevent the green cast common to photos taken in fluorescent light.  The cloudy setting will add a bit of warmth to the light; the shade setting adds a slight pink tone to eliminate the blue cast that shadows take on in open shade; and sunny option sets the color temperature to something typical of mid-day sun.

For the most part I keep my camera on automatic white balance.  My camera will do its best to determine the current lighting condition and adjust for it.  However, the camera doesn’t always get it right.  When I notice that happening I will try one of the other settings to try and improve the white balance.

But when I fail to get the white balance right in the camera, I still have a chance to correct it in post-processing.

Here’s an example of a photo I took with the automatic white balance.

And here it is after I adjusted the white balance in PicMonkey.

PicMonkey is a photo editing software that used to be free, but unfortunately it isn’t free anymore.  There are lots of options out there for photo editing software ranging from basic to really technical, and from inexpensive to really expensive.  I haven’t tried very many of them, and in fact two that I’ve used regularly in the past have become defunct (Picasa and Window Live Photo Gallery) leaving me currently with just PicMonkey.  Because I’m a renewing customer, I recently paid $48 for another year of PicMonkey.  However, new customers pay a little more.

For the moment I’d rather pay my $48 and not have to learn something new.

Correcting the white balance in PicMonkey is relatively easy most of the time.  Under ‘Basic Edits’ you click on ‘Colors’ and then ‘Auto Adjust’ and PicMonkey takes its best shot at correcting the color for you.

I didn’t necessarily think this next photo needed to be adjusted …

But I tried ‘Auto Adjust’ anyway, and this is the result …

See how it warmed up the colors giving the photo more of a pink cast?  Honestly, I’m not really sure if that is an improvement or not.

The ‘Auto Adjust’ doesn’t always get it right, especially if there are multiple sources of light or multiple shades of white in your photo.  In that case, you may have to choose the spot on your photo that you think represents the best neutral shade.  In PicMonkey you can do that by clicking on ‘Neutral Picker’ instead of ‘Auto Adjust’, then use your mouse to position the little pointer over the spot you want to base the white balance on.

I tried that again with the same photo, positioning the neutral picker over the ironstone tureen.

Hmmmm.  Now it’s really pinkish.

Next I positioned the neutral picker over the folded tablecloth at the bottom of the photo.

That really warmed up the color.

Choosing a sunny spot on the curtain in the background gave this result.

But which one is right?  I’m not sure of the answer to that question.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or perhaps it really depends upon the color settings on your computer screen.

Regardless, I try to choose the white balance that I think best represents the colors on the item I’m featuring in my photo.  Especially if I’m taking photos of a piece of furniture I’ve painted.  I want the paint color to be as accurate as possible.

Is my custom Blue Alligator color more blue …

or is it a tad more green?

That difference might be important to a potential buyer.

It’s well worth your time to take a few extra minutes to get the white balance right in your photographs.  I hope you’ve learned a bit about white balance and how to adjust it today.

Now get your camera out and play around with the white balance this weekend!

oops, I did it again.

If I come across a mid-century piece while perusing Craigslist these days, and it’s a bargain price, I can’t help but feel like I may as well buy it and paint it green.

This formula has been such a great success for me lately.  Why mess with a good thing?  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  And all of those other proverbs.

So when I saw this piece on Craigslist I decided to go for it.

Luckily it was a bargain, because …

a) it isn’t quite as stylish as the other three pieces I’ve done.

b) two of the knobs are broken so I’ll need a solution for that, and there are 14 knobs total so replacing all of them could be expensive.

c) the top of this piece is plastic laminate, not wood veneer.

d) buying it was a bit of a circus.

Let’s start with that last one.  When I arranged to pick it up, the seller explained that she had already moved out of the house where the dresser was still located and now she lives over an hour away.  She was selling multiple items so she wanted to find a time to meet at the house that would work for everyone so that she only had to make the drive once.  That was two other buyers, myself, plus the seller.  Have you ever tried arranging a time that works for multiple people?  Tricky at best.

But we finally all agreed on Friday evening.  Next, the seller didn’t want to actually give out her address.  I get it.  She’d just told me that the house was empty and she was probably thinking ‘oh wait a minute, should I really be giving out the address now?‘  So instead she asked me to drive to a particular intersection and then call her and she’d give me the address from there.  That ended up working out fine, but I usually like to know where I’m going before I head out.

By the way, for safety reasons I never go pick up a piece of furniture alone.  I always have Mr. Q with me.

So we made it there, we hauled the dresser up out of the basement via a very narrow staircase with low ceilings and got it loaded into our van.  It was a lovely Friday evening, so we then took the scenic route home through St. Paul rather than just take the freeway.

Once I got it home, the first thing I did with this piece was to sand the laminate top with my orbital sander, clean it well with TSP substitute and then added a thin coat of Fusion’s Ultra Grip.  Ultra Grip is intended to improve the adhesion of Fusion paint on tricky surfaces like glass, metal or laminate.  The Ultra Grip needs to dry for at least 12 hours before you add paint over it.

I want to mention here that I hear a lot of people commenting on brush strokes when using Fusion paint, especially with the Ultra Grip.  Although you can’t really see many brush strokes in that photo, when the light hits this piece at just the right angle you can definitely see them.  I’ve read lots of tips on how to minimize the brush strokes and I do my best, but they are still there.  Certainly more so than with chalk or milk paint.  I just don’t worry about them.   All three of my previous Park Bench pieces had brush strokes, and all three of them sold like hotcakes.

Next I decided to try and remove those chunky hour glass trim pieces on the two lower drawers.

I thought this piece would look sleeker and more stylish without them and I was hoping that I would be able to remove them without doing too much damage.  If they had been super glued on I might have had some trouble, but they were nailed on with double ended nails.

I didn’t know that up front though.  I used my mini pry bar to carefully start prying it off.  I gently made my way around the edges of the trim working my pry bar under it and gently lifting to see it if would come loose.

It was held in place with quite a few nails.

I pulled the nails out with pliers and then used Dixie Belle’s Brown Mud to fill the holes and smooth out some of the damage I did prying off the trim.

If you are ever considering a piece of furniture but you don’t like the trim on it, keep in mind that removing it can sometimes be an option.  I also removed some medallions that I didn’t like from a buffet I painted a while back (you can read the details here).

The rest was easy.  I painted everything in two coats of Fusion’s Park Bench.  No need for a top coat with Fusion.

I really went round and round with the knobs for this one.  Initially I didn’t want to keep any of the originals so I went to Hobby Lobby to see what they had.  Naturally they didn’t have 14 of anything, so if I’d found the perfect knob I would have had to order more.  Also, even during a 50% off sale, I would have spent at least $35 to $50 just on knobs.

Still, I brought home a few options to try on the dresser.  As it turned out, the drawer fronts on all of the curved upper drawers are really thick.  As a result, the screws on the Hobby Lobby knobs weren’t long enough to reach all the way through.  Argh.  I’m sure Ken could solve this problem by counter sinking the nuts on the back.

But before resorting to that I decided to revisit the original knobs.  First I spruced them up a bit with some of Prima Marketing’s Mettalique wax in Vintage Gold.  Then I moved some knobs around and added new knobs to the just the bottom drawers.  I think it works.

Oh, oops, you can see I didn’t paint the underside of that overhang at the top.  But I promise, you will never even see that in person unless you decide to lie on the floor.

So there you have it, another quick mid-century makeover.

 I’ve decided to hang on to this piece until the paint cures just to be on the safe side.  I don’t always do that, but since this one is plastic laminate on the top I think it will be more susceptible to scratching until it cures.  The Fusion paint takes approximately 21 days to cure.  So I’ll list it for sale in a couple of weeks and then we’ll just have to see if my Park Bench green mid-century modern selling streak continues!