salvaging some mid mod style.

Unlike some lucky furniture painters, I don’t have a pole barn full of furniture waiting to be painted.  Although on occasion I’ve been known to have as many as 10 or so pieces out in the carriage house waiting for their moment in the sun, for the most part I don’t have room to store a lot of inventory.

I try to stock up a bit in the fall because typically by now there are slim pickings on Craigslist.  In February people in Minnesota are hibernating, they aren’t cleaning out the attic or getting ready to move.  Plus in the winter I’m obviously not finding pieces at garage sales either.

But I’ve pretty much worked through most of what I had stocked up and now I’m scouring Craigslist on a regular basis looking for candidates for a makeover and not finding a whole lot.  The occasional piece that attracts my eye ends up either too far away, too expensive, or else it has already sold to someone else but the ad wasn’t deleted yet.

When I initially came across the ad for this pair of mid-century dressers I gave them a pass.  I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t love them either.  I do enjoy working on the occasional mid-century piece, but I usually prefer older stuff.

But week after week I kept seeing this ad.  I suspect they weren’t selling because the seller wasn’t ‘working his ad’ very aggressively.  By that I mean that he wasn’t renewing the ad periodically to keep it towards the top of the list.  Over a month had gone by since the ad was originally posted and he’d never renewed it once.

Or perhaps the problem was that no one could see the potential in these pieces.

The price was certainly right, and after seeing the ad pass by a couple of times I stopped to take a closer look.  You know what I saw?  I saw two pieces where someone else had already done half of the work for me.  They’d already been sanded and were pretty much ready to paint (and when Mr. Q and I picked them up the seller told me that he’d also already replaced all of the runners inside).  So I realized that these two pieces could be a pretty quick turnaround.

Unfortunately, in addition to the sanding and repairing, the seller had also replaced the original knobs with these awful cheap knobs from the hardware store that are all wrong and have zero mid-century style.

But imagine my glee when I opened one of the drawers and found a Ziploc baggie filled with the original knobs inside.  Jackpot!

If you are thinking they look a bit grungy in that photo, just sit tight.  You’ll see what I did to spruce them up in a few minutes.

As we got talking with him, the seller happened to mention that he’d also made a couple of … well … let’s call them adjustments to the style of the pieces.  He said that originally the drawers with the long handles has been inset.  He thought that looked weird, so he added stops inside the dresser to keep the drawers from pushing all the way back.  Plus he moved the shims on either side of those drawers forward to bring all of the drawers flush with the front.

Now that you are aware of this, go back and look at the ‘before’ picture again.  Yep, now your eye immediately goes to those shims and you realize they look kind of odd, right?

I realized that I had to un-do those changes before I could start painting.  So much for the quick turn around.  But that being said, thank goodness the seller mentioned this.  I’m honestly not sure that I would have figured this out on my own.  I know I would have been puzzled about those shims, but would I have realized that two of the four drawers were meant to be inset?  Probably not.

I tried to remove the shims intact so that I could just simply move them back to their original location, but I ended up breaking two of them.  That’s when I called my handyman Ken for a consultation.  He came over and helped me get the rest of the shims off without breaking them (they were glued and stapled with heavy duty staples), and he took the broken ones home and cut replacements for me.  What would I do without Ken?

While Ken was working on that I had to take care of one last problem before I could start painting.

It wasn’t until I was wiping the drawers down to paint them that I noticed there was a hole on either side of the long wooden drawer pulls.  I’m guessing that there used to be a metal cap of sorts on either end of that pull.  I wish I’d found those inside a drawer in a Ziploc baggie, but no such luck.  So I needed to fill those holes.  I used my usual trick of placing a piece of tape on the back side of the hole, but then this time I filled them using Dixie Belle’s brown Mud.  It cracks me up that the label says ‘straight from the swamps of Dixie’.

Fortunately it does not smell like it’s straight from the swamps of Dixie 😉

I used a putty knife to press the mud into the holes and then I let it dry.  Once the first pass was dry I went over the holes a second time with the mud to make sure they were level with the drawer front.  Once dry again, I sanded them smooth and cleaned the drawer fronts with a damp rag.

Now came the fun part, the paint!  I always struggle with deciding between choosing a more neutral color that I think will sell more easily and choosing a more vibrant color that will be fun to paint with but may not appeal to as many buyers.  So I made a deal with myself to paint one piece in a neutral and one in a brighter color.  Today I’m starting with the taller piece, and it’s going more neutral.

Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road, to be precise, which is a warm, dark grey.  Once again I used Dixie Belle’s recommended method of painting.  I dipped my brush in water periodically to thin down the paint.  The paint goes on so smoothly using this technique.  It does also thin it down a fair bit, so two coats were required.  Also, in case you are wondering I used about half of the 16 oz jar for this dresser, so less than $10 worth of paint.

I use Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax! in brown as a top coat.  I like how the brown wax warms up and deepens the color a bit.

Before putting those original brass knobs back on, I washed them with soap and warm water and then once dry I added some Prima Marketing Metallique wax.  I debated using the Old Silver and although I think that would have looked gorgeous, I went with the warmer tone of the Bronze Age instead.

I like to apply it with a q-tip (although some people just use a fingertip).  The trick is to apply even coverage and then leave the knobs alone to ‘dry’ for a couple of hours.  Once dry you can buff lightly to add some shine.

They look amazing on the dresser.  It was so lucky that I was able to put the original knobs back on this piece.

I have to admit that I did not have high expectations for this dresser.  I really expected to improve it somewhat with a paint job and call it good.

But in the end, after salvaging a bit of the original mid-century modern style, I am amazed by the transformation.

How about you?


the blanchisserie dresser.

As you can probably tell by the ‘before’ photo below, I purchased this dresser back at the end of summer when I was trying to stock up some projects for the winter.

I think we can all agree that the previous owner had made some rather unfortunate hardware decisions, but otherwise this piece didn’t look all that bad at first.

I wanted to strip the top and then wax it with a dark wax, but after stripping the top of the dresser it looked like this.

I’ve run into these black streaks before.  I’m not 100% sure, but after doing some quick google research I think they might be iron oxide stains (if any of you have any insight, please share in a comment).  Iron oxide stains can occur when the tannins in the wood interact with moisture and turn black over time.  There are methods for removing these stains, but I didn’t think it was worth it to spend that much time and effort on this dresser.  The wood just wasn’t that pretty.  So, in the end I opted to just paint the whole thing.

I also found some clues to tell me this dresser was probably originally intended to be painted.  In fact, it had been painted at least twice and possibly three times.  Clue no. 1 is on the back side.

Isn’t that a gorgeous aqua?  I know I would have loved that color!

Clue no. 2 was inside the openings for the drawers …

So it was probably also pink at one time, and maybe even white.

Whoever bought the dresser, then stripped off all of those colors and refinished it, was probably pretty disappointed in the lackluster results.  But I was happy to take it back to its roots.  Except I didn’t choose aqua, pink or white.  At least not on the outside.  Instead I chose black.  More of Dixie Belle’s Caviar to be precise.

Once the paint was dry I added bits and pieces of my french laundry stencil to the drawer fronts.  Once again, I’d love to share a source for this stencil but the company I purchased it from via Etsy seems to no longer be in business.

To keep the stencil subtle I used a warm, dark grey acrylic craft paint rather than a white.

Once the stencil paint was dry, I sanded lightly by hand over the entire dresser with a fine grit paper and then waxed it using Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax! in brown.  I think the amount of sheen I got from this wax is just about perfect.

I ended up using clear glass knobs and drawer pulls on this dresser because I happened to have them on hand.  My friend Sue gave them to me and I had just the right amount for this dresser, plus they were just the right size for the existing holes.  It seemed like it was meant to be.

 As a nod to the remnants of pink paint that I found inside the dresser, I painted the interiors of the drawers in Fusion’s English Rose.

I like to use Fusion paint in spots like this because it doesn’t need a topcoat, yet is still fully washable once cured.  A great quality for the insides of drawers.  It only took me about 20 minutes for each coat of paint (I used two) and that fabulous pop of pink when you open the drawer is a lot of bang for your buck, time wise.  I generally only resort to painting the inside of drawers when they are really stained up and scary looking.  These drawers had a few ink stains that needed to be covered up.  In order to prevent the ink stains from bleeding through my paint I tried out the new clear sealer that Dixie Belle provided me with last month, B.O.S.S.

B.O.S.S. stands for Blocks Odors, Stains, Stops bleed-thru.

Had I wanted to block odors, or stop a reddish stain from bleeding thru I would have painted the B.O.S.S. over the entire surface.  However in my case I just had a couple of stain spots that needed blocking, so I just painted two quick coats of B.O.S.S. over the stains themselves.  It worked perfectly.

You might be wondering why I didn’t paint that edge of the drawer.  That is because the drawer fits fairly tightly as it is.  If I added paint, it would not open and close freely.  Always beware of adding too much paint to the edges of your drawers when they are a tight fit.  Nobody wants sticky drawers!

I staged the dresser with some of my favorites from my non-collection of vintage alarm clocks, plus one of my favorite old photos.

That photo was taken on the stoop of my grandparent’s home in South Minneapolis, but no one in the family seems to know who the people are.  They look like such a fun couple though, don’t they?  I imagine that it was a sunny spring day and they were on their way to a picnic at Minnehaha Falls when the photo was taken.

This was back in the day when ladies wore dresses and men wore ties on picnics in the park.

They probably had fabulous painted dressers with glass knobs too, but maybe not with french stencils on them.  Their loss, right?

I gotta tell you guys, I’m kind of in love with this Dixie Belle Caviar.  Lucky they sent me the big jar, because I’m going to be using a lot of this color.

The blanchisserie dresser is available while it lasts, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details!




the windsors.

You might think I’m about to talk about England’s royal family, but no.  I’m talking about the chair kind of Windsors, not the royal kind of Windsors.

I picked up these Windsor chairs at one of the neighborhood garage sales last summer .

Structurally they are in great shape, they just have a bit of an outdated finish on them.  As soon as I saw them, I pictured them painted black.  Black is a classic color for a Windsor.  So when Dixie Belle sent me some of their chalk style paint in a color called Caviar I dug these chairs out of the carriage house to give them a makeover.

I did not sand the chairs before painting them, I just gave them a good cleaning with some TSP Substitute and started painting.  I used the same damp brush technique that I mentioned in my post on Monday, simply dipping my brush in a cup of water occasionally while painting.  It took two coats to fully cover mainly because the paint thins out using this technique, but it also goes on ultra smooth.  So for those of you who prefer to see a brush-stroke free finish, this is definitely the way to go.

Once dry I wet distressed the edges of the chairs using a damp rag and then used a 320 grit sandpaper on the seats, flat arms and flat top at the back.

I did not sand any of the spindles because that would likely have pushed me over the edge.  Painting them was putzy enough, just look at all of those spindles!

Can we just stop here a minute though and talk about this color?

The Caviar is a gorgeous deep, rich, saturated black.  It looked deep and dark even before I waxed it.

In fact, here’s a secret.  I didn’t wax the legs yet.  Obviously I have to get to that before I sell the chairs, but I was trying to take advantage of a sunny day to get my photos done so I saved the legs for later.

Before waxing I stenciled the seats with a fab french design.  I’m fairly sure I ordered this stencil via Etsy, but once again the shop I ordered from is no longer there.  I seem to have bad luck in this way with stencils.  So I’m sorry that I can’t give you a source for this one.

The stencil was just the pop of something special that took these chairs from ho-hum to fab.

Once I had the stencils done, I sanded lightly over them with 320 grit sandpaper and then waxed the chairs (and I will get to those legs!) with Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in clear.

If you’re used to using Miss Mustard Seed, Homestead House or Fusion wax (like I am), don’t be freaked out when you open up the Dixie Belle clear wax and it looks really white.  I thought for sure I had gotten a white wax by mistake.  But no, ultimately it dries clear.

Also, you really won’t need a dark wax (like brown or black) to deepen the black color of this paint.  It looks gorgeous even with the clear wax.

I love how the chairs turned out.  If I had a spot for them I’d definitely keep them.  But there is no room at the inn, so they have to go.  If you are local and need a pair of Windsors, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.


stool samples.

Back in the beginning of January I was pondering my blog content and thinking about potential ways to grow in the new year.   I felt like it was time to try some new products.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Fusion, Homestead House and Miss Mustard Seed products and I’ll definitely continue to use them on a regular basis.  I’m also still officially addicted to the IOD Décor Transfers.  But I felt like I needed to add a good chalk style paint to my line up and also just take a look around at what other sorts of products are out there and what they can do.

After all, variety is the spice of life, right?

My painting philosophy is that there is no one perfect paint that is best no matter what the project.  Some projects are better suited for milk paint, some are better suited for an acrylic paint and some are better suited for a chalk style paint.

I decided to do a little research by looking at what other furniture painters that I admire are doing these days.  One of those painters is Denise at Salvaged Inspirations (be sure to check out her blog post today about painting with black).  She recently painted this gorgeous dresser in Dixie Belle chalk paint in a color called Caviar

and this stunning blue buffet painted in Dixie Belle’s Bunker Hill Blue

So I went to the Dixie Belle website and just browsed around a bit.

And guess what?  They had some really cool stuff, like their Patina Collection for creating an aged metal look and a stain-blocking, smell-blocking clear primer called BOSS.  I was also intrigued by their Easy Peasy Spray Wax and Dixie Belle Mud.

That was when fate intervened in an amazing way.  I received an email from Teri at Dixie Belle out of the blue.  She had seen my blog and wondered if I’d be interested in trying any of their products.

Seriously!  What a wild coincidence right?  The timing could not have been any more perfect.

Of course I said yes!  I’d definitely be interested in trying a whole bunch of their products.  Like all the ones I listed above, and certainly some paint too!

So last week I received a big heavy box in the mail from Dixie Belle!  I’d asked them to ship it to my day job.  The Dixie Belle paint should not be allowed to freeze.  Since it’s January in Minnesota, having the box shipped to my office meant it wouldn’t be left sitting outside on my porch for any length of time.

Now I was fully stocked with some gorgeous paint colors and some fun, unique products that I couldn’t wait to experiment with.

Having made my share of mistakes with new products over the years, I’m learning to start out slowly; test them out on something small to get a feel for how they work before jumping right in to the deep end and painting a big piece of furniture.  So this time I pulled out a pair of stools that my friend Sue recently passed on to me to sample some of the paint colors and top coats.

And hence, the title of this blog post was born.  Stool samples.  Seriously, how could I resist?

The ‘how-to’ guide for Dixie Belle chalk paint says that you don’t have to sand your piece, just clean it and then start painting.  I would have followed that advice to the letter except the seat of the taller stool had a big glob of spilled blue paint on it.  Although I could have painted right over that and the paint would have adhered, you still would have been able to see the texture from it.  In other words, it would have looked like I painted over a glob of something.

Q-tip of the day: if you don’t want to see texture (including drip marks and brush strokes) from a previous paint job (or spill), you will need to sand it down before painting with any kind of paint.

So I sanded the top of the taller stool pretty vigorously, but left the rest alone.  It really was a relief to not have to sand all of those legs!

I didn’t want to see either of the existing colors on each stool when I distressed them after the final coat of paint, so I gave them an undercoat of a color that I wouldn’t mind seeing, Savannah Mist.  Dixie Belle recommends using a damp paint brush and painting in thin coats.  I’d never tried the damp paint brush technique before so I thought I would give it a try.  You simply dip your brush into a bit of water, just a quick dip, not a big, swooshy, saturate your brush sort of dip, then dip your brush into the paint.  You don’t have to re-dip your brush into the water with every fresh dip of paint, maybe just with every 4 or 5.  I just kept a plastic cup of water handy.

Turns out I really like this technique which basically just waters down your paint as you use it.  It makes the paint easier to apply and it definitely goes further.  It also helps prevent brush strokes.  Despite the watering down, I still got great coverage with just one coat of the fairly light base color.

I used the same technique to paint each stool with a top layer of a different color.  The smaller stool got one coat of Gravel Road and the taller stool got two coats of Drop Cloth (white tends to require more coats for good coverage no matter what kind of paint you are using).  Then, while I had the paint out anyway I also painted a third even smaller stool in the Gravel Road.

Since I was going to add some grain sack style stripes using tape next, I flipped over to the underside of one of the stools (which I had also painted) to test whether or not the tape would pull off any paint.

Nope.  I was good to go.  By the way, this is the color called Gravel Road.

I taped off some stripes on the two larger stools.  One got striped with Drop Cloth, the other got Yankee Blue.

Next I decided to try wet distressing them.  I think a chalk style paint is easier to wet distress than other types of paint.  The trick is to do it right away as soon as the paint is dry, but before it hardens too much.  In case you’ve never heard of it, to wet distress a piece you just use a damp cloth and wipe the paint off wherever you would normally distress the piece.  I like to use a nubby terrycloth fabric for this and I have a bunch of old towels that I’ve cut down into rag sized pieces for jobs like these.

Here’s how the wet distressed edge looks up close …

 There are a couple of benefits to wet distressing.  First of all, you don’t create any dust.  This is a big plus when you are working indoors in the middle of winter.  Second, you can more easily control how far down you distress.  I didn’t want to see much of that original green color of this stool.  As soon as I could see the coat of Savannah Mist coming through I stopped rubbing.

To add a little something extra, I stenciled the two smaller stools.  After the painted stencil designs dried, I sanded the top of each stool with a fine 320 grit sand paper to smooth them out.

Next I sampled two of the Dixie Belle top coat options, the Easy Peasy spray wax and their Best Dang Wax! in Brown.  The ‘1902’ stool was finished with the spray, the smaller stool with the brown wax.

The Easy Peasy spray definitely lives up to its name.  You simple spray it on in a fine mist, wait 5 seconds and then wipe.  Done.

The Best Dang Wax! is very creamy, soft and workable and it has no smell (which translates to no petroleum distillates and you know I like that).  I also like the rich, dark color of the brown.  I’m planning to test it out on some bare wood soon.

After sealing the tall stool with the Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat, I used Fusion Transfer Gel to add a graphic (click here to read more about that technique).

Remember, if perfection is your goal then graphics added with transfer gel might not be right for you.  If you want to compare various methods for adding a graphic to something check out my post on that {here}.  Using transfer gel is definitely one of the most cost effective ways.

I had fun playing around with the various Dixie Belle paint colors and top coats while creating my three stool samples.

To recap …

stool sample no. 1 – painted with a base coat of Dixie Belle’s Savannah Mist, then painted with Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, striped with Dixie Belle’s Yankee Blue, sealed with Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat, graphic added using Fusion’s Transfer Gel.

stool sample no. 2 – painted with a base coat of Dixie Belle’s Savannah Mist, then painted with Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road, striped with Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, stenciled with Martha Stewart acrylic craft paint, sealed with Dixie Belle’s Easy Peasy Spray On Wax.

stool sample no. 3 – painted with Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road, stenciled with Martha Stewart acrylic craft paint, waxed with Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax! in brown.  You’ll notice that the Gravel Road looks darker on this stool as a result of adding the dark brown wax v. the Spray On wax.

I’ve already started my next project using the Dixie Belle products, so be sure to stay tuned!




the rest of the desk.

Today I’m sharing the rest of the desk makeover.

As a refresher, here is the ‘before’.

And here is the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of the desk top.

If you’ll remember, my initial plan was to paint the entire desk green.  But then I decided to try and save that wood top.  I still could have painted the rest of the desk green, but I decided to go with black milk paint instead.

I used Homestead House milk paint in Coal Black, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try the Homestead House Stain & Finishing Oil in Cappucino as a topcoat over the milk paint.

The technique for this is fairly simple.  Once your milk paint is dry, sand it with a fine grit sandpaper to smooth it out, distress the edges as desired and loosen any flaking milk paint.  Vacuum away the dust, and then wipe your piece down.  I like to use a dry microfiber cloth for that.

Next, apply a coat of the SFO.  You can wipe it on with a lint free cloth or you can apply it with a stain applicator pad, but I chose to apply it with one of those cheap sponge brush thingies.

The angled tip of the sponge worked really well for getting the SFO into corners and grooves.

After allowing the SFO to absorb into the surface for a few minutes, wipe away the excess with a lint free cloth.  I used an old black t-shirt.

One coat of SFO will give you a matte finish.  Subsequent coats will increase the shine, deepen the color and increase the durability.  I had this crazy idea that I wanted a little more shine, so I added a second coat (after waiting 24 hours for the first coat to dry).  As it turns out, I had a little trouble keeping the gloss consistent with the second coat.  You don’t notice that on the front of the desk at all, but it’s more apparent on the sides when they catch the light just right.

I’m sure this was the result of ‘user error’, this is the first time I’ve used the SFO over milk paint on a larger piece.  Perhaps I wiped too much off in some areas and not others, or perhaps I didn’t wait long enough for the SFO to absorb before wiping.  I’m not sure.  Either way, I definitely prefer more of a matte look over my milk paint so next time I will stop after one coat of SFO.

Regardless, I absolutely love how the Cappucino SFO darkened up the black milk paint and really brought out the richness of the color.

As for the hardware, I kept the original drawer pulls that came on the desk but I dressed them up a bit with some of the Prima Marketing art alchemy Metallique wax in Bronze Age.

If you remember back, Prima Marketing provided me with several different colors of this wax a month or two ago.

I really love how subtle the Bronze Age is.  Not too bright or too shiny.

To apply the wax simply dip a q-tip into the wax, swirl it around and then use the q-tip to apply the wax to your piece.  Allow it to dry and harden for a couple of hours and then buff to bring out some shine.

Since I loved the look of the Bronze Age wax against the black milk paint so much, I added some of it to the raised detail on the middle drawer.

I applied this in the same way, using a q-tip and rubbing it over the surface.  Be careful to not get the wax anywhere you don’t want it, it is hard to remove again.  So be sure to use a steady hand while doing this.

By the way, the chalkboard hanging on the wall is an old mirror frame taken off a dresser with a piece of hardboard cut to fit the opening which was then painted with two coats of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Typewriter.  Once the last coat of milk paint is dry, I sand it smooth and then ‘season’ the chalkboard by rubbing chalk all over it and wiping it away with a microfiber cloth.  I wiped the wood frame down with a little Miss Mustard Seed hemp oil just to freshen it up a bit.

If you’re wondering why I suddenly switched from the Homestead House Coal Black that’s on the desk to Miss Mustard Seed Typewriter for the chalkboard, it’s simply because I used up all of my Coal Black on the desk and I had the Typewriter on hand.  I’ve painted with both of these colors side by side and I don’t think there is any difference.  Of course they look different here because one has the SFO topcoat and one just had white chalk smeared all over it.

We’ve come to the part of my blog post where I normally share a side by side collage of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of the desk, but earlier this week Mr. Q gifted me with a new computer!  It has a huge display screen, which is amazing, and it’s so much faster than my old computer.  However, I don’t have Picasa on it which is the software I used to make those side by side collages.  Picasa was retired back in March 2016 so I can’t load it on this computer.  And as it turns out, Windows Live Photo Gallery was discontinued back in January 2017, so I couldn’t load that either.  I’m going to have to learn all new software for organizing my photos, and I’m going to have to find new photo editing software that will let me make those collages.  But I still have my old standby, PicMonkey so all is not lost there (but I’m not impressed with PicMonkey’s collage options).

In the meantime, you’ll have to excuse me while I take some time to learn some new tricks and just be content with seeing the ‘after’ all by itself.

This desk is for sale, so be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

mind the gap.

Remember this dresser that I painted last September?

I mentioned at the time that I don’t usually keep the mirrors that come with dressers.  I have found that it takes much longer to sell a dresser with a mirror than one without.  But this mirror was so gorgeous and it added so much to the dresser that I decided to keep it.

But I didn’t literally want to keep it.  I wanted to sell it.  I posted it on Craigslist and it sat, and it sat, and it sat.  I got a couple of nibbles, but no one even so much as came out to look at it.

Honestly it’s not often that my pieces don’t sell within a month or so, sometimes even faster.  But it does happen.  When it does I usually go back to the drawing board and try to figure out why and what I can re-work to make the piece more marketable.

First I figured it couldn’t possibly be the color.  Right?  It’s white.  Anyone can work a white piece into their existing color scheme.

I supposed it could be the transfer, or the hardware.

But I don’t think its any of those things.  I think it’s the mirror.

So it’s time to cut my losses and remove the mirror.  However, removing the mirror leaves a gap at the back of the top of the dresser because the mirror sat down into that gap.  So it wasn’t quite as simple as just removing the mirror and calling it good.

Luckily, I have a handy neighbor who can help me out with such things!

Ken made short work of cutting a board to fit down in that gap.

I painted it up to match the dresser (in Fusion’s Limestone) and attached it.

And presto, the dresser has a whole new look.

Now this dresser could hold a widescreen TV, or it could be used under a window.  It could work in a living room, dining room or foyer.

It would also work well in a home office to hold the printer and office supplies.

  It’s just so much more versatile without a mirror, don’t you agree?  I also have to say that I like it much better this way myself.

And in case you are wondering what the fate of the mirror will be, Ken and I are going to turn it into another chalkboard shelf so it won’t just be going to waste.

So now we’ll just have to wait and see whether or not my theory about mirrors is right.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.  In the meantime you can see some of my other do-overs here, here and here.


I purchased this table back in September at a garage sale.

I loved the detail on the base of the table, but didn’t love the dated dark, shiny, reddish finish which also was not in very good condition.  So of course I planned to give it a makeover.

I started by stripping the top of the table using Citristrip.  Although I stripped this piece outside in my driveway back in September, I like using the Citristrip because it can be used indoors also and it’s not as toxic as some of the stronger strippers.  But the trade off is that it doesn’t work as quickly as the stronger strippers.  Usually it works great to just remove some old varnish, but this piece had some serious red colored stain that just kept coming up.  In fact, even after three passes with the stripper I still hadn’t gotten quite all of it.  So I put the table in the back corner of the workshop to think about its bad behavior for a while.

Then over a frigidly cold weekend recently I pulled it into the house to finish the job.  Since the tabletop was not a uniform color, I decided to forgo my original plan of just waxing it and instead try the Homestead House Stain & Finishing Oil All in One (or SFO for short) in Cappucino.

Homestead House sent a complimentary sample of this product to me a while back, but this is the first chance I’ve had to try it out.  Although this product isn’t designed to cover up discolorations, my hope was that the dark color of the Cappucino would help disguise the fact that the wood tabletop was still just a little bit splotchy from that red stain.

First things first, the SFO is ideally meant for bare wood.  It is designed to soak into the wood rather than sit on top of another finish like a gel stain does.  Also, it is color and topcoat in one, no need for the multiple steps of stain followed by poly.  Once cured this stuff is even durable enough to use on floors.

Here is what Homestead House has to say about the ingredients:  “Our Stain & Finishing Oil is composed of plant products, Safflower oil, Tung oil, Linseed oil, Vegetable wax, safe odourless mineral solvent and cobalt free siccative which means effective drying without toxic cobalt dryers while being virtually odourless.”  And based on that, I felt comfortable using this product inside my home with no windows open.  It was -12F outside when I was working on this, so opening a window was definitely not an option.

To prep the table top I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper, vacuumed the dust, and then wiped it down with a clean microfiber cloth.  I applied the SFO with an old brush, but next time I think I would just use either a lint free cloth or a stain applicator pad either of which can then just be tossed.  This is not a water based product and cleaning an oily brush is just not something I enjoy spending time on.

After applying the product I let it sit for about 10 minutes to absorb into the wood.  Then I used an old t-shirt to wipe away the excess.

And that was it.

Yep.  Done.

No need for an extra topcoat.  After 3 days this finish is cured enough for normal use and after 10 days it is fully washable making it a great choice for table tops.

Although you can use multiple coats to deepen the color, I found that just one coat was plenty dark for my table.  However, keep in mind that multiple coats will also improve the durability and increase the shine slightly with each coat.  If you don’t want to darken the color, but do want to increase durability or shine you can do your first coat in the color you want (Cappucino for example) and then add subsequent coats of SFO in Natural (allow 24 hours of drying time between each coat).

Seriously though folks, I am pretty much a novice stain-er.  I don’t have a lot of experience with wood stain and I am pretty intimidated by it.  It seems like you have to be very careful to keep the color even, etc. etc.  But this stuff was super easy to use.

I mentioned that the SFO is best suited for bare wood, but it also works great over milk paint.  I did a double take the first time I read that one myself.  I do a lot of painting with milk paint so I’m always interested in alternative top coats.  When you think about it, it makes total sense that the SFO will work well over milk paint since the paint itself is porous and will allow the finish to soak in.  I did a little practice board to see how the Cappucino SFO would look over both some Coal Black (top) and some Midnight Blue (bottom) Homestead House milk paint.

By the way, please try to ignore those white specks in my paint.

Don’t use sandpaper that was previously used over white paint to sand your dark milk paint, it will leave little flecks of white paint behind.  Lesson learned.

But hopefully you can see that the SFO looks fantastic over the milk paint.  It adds a richness to the color, but not a lot of shine.  I plan to try this technique on a piece of furniture that I’m working on currently.

With all this talk of SFO being an oil, designed to soak into porous surfaces like bare wood and milk paint, you might be thinking that you can’t use it over an existing sealed surface (such as Fusion or other acrylic paints).  While it’s true that it’s not ideally meant for those surfaces, you can do it.  Much like you can put hemp oil over Fusion paint.  It won’t soak in like it does over bare wood or milk paint, but it will harden as it dries and provide both color and added protection.  I tried a practice board for that too, using Fusion’s Plaster and Park Bench.

The difference when using the SFO over non-porous surfaces is that you need to wipe carefully.  If you wipe too vigorously you will just wipe away all of the SFO.  Wipe gently leaving a thin coat behind and then let it dry.  I think it gives a similar look to using a glaze, but again with very nice matte finish.  I love the Cappucino over the Park Bench.

I hope that some of this info about the Stain & Finishing Oil has helped give you a better understanding of how this product works.  I definitely plan to use it on a couple of upcoming projects, so I’ll be sure to keep you posted on that.  But meanwhile, back to my little table.

For the base of the table I pulled out some Fusion paint in a color that I’d never tried before called Cathedral Taupe.

I’d always thought this color had a bit too much pink in it for me, and it definitely does have a pink undertone.  I think the pink shows up more in photos than it does in real life actually.  The combination of the Cappucino colored top and the Cathedral Taupe base is gorgeous in person.  I feel like I didn’t really capture it well in my photos.

Once again I applied a little beeswax before painting to help make distressing the edges of the table base easier.

I plan to bring the table in to Reclaiming Beautiful to sell, unless one of you wants it first?  If interested, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more info.