perfection is not the name of my game.

I bet you guys have practically forgotten that I also paint furniture.  It definitely has been a hot minute since I worked on any.  That tends to happen this time of year though.  I usually have a big push in the fall to finish up any pieces that are out in my workshop, and then I go into Christmas mode and mainly work on smaller items of some sort.

Then shortly after the holidays I get itching to work on furniture again.

So with that in mind, I started searching Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to find a likely candidate and I came across this dresser.

I chose it for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the price.  I got a great deal on it.  Second, I thought the style was fairly versatile.  It has a bit of a mid-mod vibe without being overtly mid-mod.  I liked the relatively clean lines and the curve.

The dresser needed a few quick repairs before I could get around to the fun part of painting it.  Ken replaced a missing runner underneath one drawer …

Then I did a lot of gluing of loose veneer.  If you look closely at the before photo you can see that there was a lot of veneer damage on the sides of the drawers and on the base.  So once I had the loose pieces securely glued down, I used some of Dixie Belle’s Mud to fill any gaps.

Next up I stripped the finish on the top of the dresser using CitriStrip.  It wasn’t until I had the top completely stripped that I noticed there was a chunk of veneer missing up there too.

Well, drat!  I know nothing about patching veneer, so I wasn’t going to attempt that.  I also hated the idea of filling it and then painting the top after all of that work stripping it.  So ultimately I decided to just live with it.  Since when am I aiming for perfection?

Well, about that … here’s a little sidebar for you … I tend to fall down rabbit holes on YouTube and my most recent rabbit hole is Baumgartner Restoration.  He does fine art restoration with painstaking attention to detail.  After spending too much time watching his videos I was starting to think that I should be aiming for perfection myself.

But then I remembered, this is cast off furniture not fine art.  My goal is functionality and decorative appeal, not perfection.  This flaw is towards the back and any potential buyer is likely to have something on top of this dresser that covers up that spot anyway.

A pile of books does the job perfectly.

So after sanding the top smooth, rather than re-staining and adding a clear coat, I decided to just give it a coat of clear wax to bring out its beauty but also leave it a bit more on the rustic side.

I decided to hedge my bets and give the base a coat of Dixie Belle’s clear B.O.S.S. before painting it.  I wasn’t sure if the orange-y stain would bleed or not, but I’ve learned over time, better safe than sorry.  It’s so much easier to just go ahead and add that B.O.S.S. from the get-go (too bad I didn’t apply this knowledge to the boxes I shared on Friday!).

Next came two coats of Dixie Belle’s Bunker Hill Blue.

It’s such a gorgeous, rich shade of blue.

While the paint dried, I decided to brighten up those figure 8 drawer pulls with some metallic wax.

In this case, I used the re.design with prima décor wax in Eternal.  I find it easiest to just apply this stuff with my finger while wearing a latex glove.  Before applying the wax, I prepped the pulls by simply washing them in hot water with Dawn dish soap.

I let the wax dry for about 24 hours, and then buff it up just a little with a soft cloth.  Those gold pulls really pop against the Bunker Hill Blue.

Before putting the pulls back on, I lightly sanded the paint with 220 grit sandpaper and then finished up with a coat of Dixie Belle’s Big Mama’s Butta in the Orange Grove scent.

If you’ve never used this product, I like to describe it as halfway between wax and hemp oil.  It contains all-natural hemp seed oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and carnauba wax.  It works really well for rejuvenating dried out wood, but it can also be used over chalk paint (or milk paint for that matter).

I apply it with a wax brush and then buff away the excess with an old t-shirt.  In this case, a dark blue t-shirt to avoid leaving white fibers behind.

This dresser is super sturdy, and crazy heavy.  They really don’t make them like this anymore.  It’s also quite large.  I’m not sure it looks it in the photos, but it is 4′ wide.

I hope that even though I didn’t achieve perfection, I did breath a little new life into this one.

What do you think?

This piece is for sale locally, check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.  And as always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint and butta used in this makeover.

spending time.

You know, it’s funny, but when I initially was thinking about putting together a year end recap blog post I felt like I hadn’t really done that much in 2022 and it would be hard to come up with something that wasn’t lame.  After all, what did I spend my time on last year?  Now that I’m retired from the day job, I have to admit that I feel a little bit like I’m spending too much of my time doing unimportant things like reading a book, taking a nap or watching YouTube.

Then I started looking back at my blog posts for 2022 and I realized I did do some things.  For one thing, I traveled quite a bit.  I visited some old favorites like my mom’s place near Vegas, Disney World and Puerto Vallarta.  Plus I saw some new places like Sedona …

and Charleston.

I also did a lot more gardening last year than I have in the past, and that led me to start a weekly ‘Sunday mornings in the garden’ blog post.

I also did plenty of thrifted item makeovers.

And garage sale item makeovers.

And even some makeovers of my own stuff.

Of course, there were countless toolbox makeovers!

And lock box makeovers.

And tackle box makeovers.

Speaking of tackling, I also tackled a project I’d been putting off for a couple of years, turning the photo cottage back into a potting shed.

I learned a new technique in 2022 with the I.O.D. paint inlays.

I also got my first paid magazine feature in 2022.

And my first paid blog post sponsorship (Dixie Belle Paint Co does not pay me, but they do provide me with free product, fyi).

Looking back over all of these things, I realize that I did a lot more in 2022 than just nap, read and binge watch YouTube.

I guess I tend to focus on furniture makeovers when trying to decide whether or not I’ve accomplished something, and 2022 was definitely not my best year in terms of productivity or profit when it comes to furniture.

However, I did create some really cool pieces like the fritz kohnen armoire.

And the raw wood experiment dresser.

The botanical cupboard was one of my favorite pieces in 2022.

And the splitsville nightstands created from a dressing table were a fun project to work on too.

My motivation for working on furniture stalled a bit over the last year because my stuff just hasn’t been selling as quickly as it used to.

At this point I can’t promise that I’ll be ramping back up when it comes to furniture makeovers, but I hope to have plenty of projects of all kinds to share with you guys along with a smattering of gardening and travel posts (we’re going back to Norway!) in 2023.  So I hope you’ll all stick with me for another year.

Happy New Year!

 

favorite fall furniture photo shoots.

Well, that’s a mouthful!  Try saying that 10 times fast.

I thought it would be fun to compile some of my favorite fall furniture photo shoots for you guys today.  The fall colors are so fleeting, so I usually only manage to get one or maybe two pieces of furniture completed at just the right time to take advantage of the opportunity to stage those pieces outside.

I was hoping to take the photos of the bookcase I shared last week outside, but I took those photos on that Tuesday when the ‘feels like’ temp was 12.  Somehow I didn’t ‘feel like’ staging an outdoor photo shoot that day.

But I have a handful of favorites from previous years, so let’s take a look.

The midnight buffet is at the top of my list.

I painted that back in 2016 in Fusion’s Midnight Blue.

It was fun to stage it up with falling leaves and a little non-collection of whisk brooms.

Another favorite from that same year was a pair of end tables that I painted with the union jack in shades of gray.

I did a few of these union jack pieces back in the day, and I still love that look.

They were rather putzy to do though, and they never sold quickly.  I think there is a limited market for them that only includes anglophiles.

This washstand that I painted in 2018 was perfect for a fall furniture photo shoot.

It’s painted in my favorite Dixie Belle Drop Cloth, and has that old Seeds transfer on it.

This chippy barrel chair was a fun makeover in 2015.

I painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen.  It looks great sitting in front of my Limelight hydrangea.

And speaking of that hydrangea, here is another fun piece that I staged in front of it.

I paired up an old metal typewriter stand base with a barnwood top to create a unique side table.  I kind of wish I’d kept that one for myself now.  I may have to be on the lookout for another base like that.

Last up is this little chest of drawers that I painted way back in 2014, in Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen Scale.

Our yellow maple tree was the perfect contrast to set off that teal blue color.

You never know, maybe I’ll manage to still get a fall furniture photo shoot in this year.  But then again, maybe not.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed looking back at some of my favorites!

the farmers market bookcase.

Last winter I purchased a beautiful armoire via a Facebook Marketplace ad, and coincidentally, I knew the seller.  She’d purchased a few of my pieces in the past.

While I was at her home picking up the armoire, she mentioned that she had a few other pieces she wanted to sell including this bookcase.

It’s not my normal style, but it’s a really nice quality piece and I thought it could be fun to make over, so I purchased it.

It’s a bit odd though because it’s collapsible.  I’m struggling to figure out why one would want a collapsible bookcase.  Especially one that is as heavy as this one is.  It’s not like you’re going to tote it around and set it up whenever you have a sudden need for a bookcase.  But the shelves are hinged and fold upward.  Then the sides fold in, and the top and bottom fold in as well.

It took me all year to get around to doing something with it because it was a bit clunky to wrangle it around with all of those hinging pieces.  But I finally pulled it out of hiding last week and got it painted up.

After giving it a light scuff sanding all over, and then cleaning it with TSP substitute, I gave it a base coat of B.O.S.S. after Mr. Q looked at it and said ‘gosh, that stain looks like it would bleed thru’.  I allowed the B.O.S.S. to dry for 24 hours and then gave the bookcase two coats of Dixie Belle’s Dried Sage.

I ‘discovered’ this color last summer when I painted a dresser I got from a friend.  Based on the name, I assumed this color would be more of a sage green … and I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of your typical sage green.  But then I used it and realized it’s a fabulous medium warm brownish-greyish sort of color with a green undertone.  I went on to use it on my potting shed floor, although I lightened it up a tad for that using some Drop Cloth.

It was the perfect color for this bookcase.

However, this color is such a chameleon that I really struggled to capture it correctly in my photos.  It changes with the light, and compared to what is beside it.

After the Dried Sage was dry, I decided to add my wallcutz Farmers Market stencil to the top of the bookcase.  I liked the sign I made earlier this month with that stencil so much that I wanted to use it again.

So I got to work stenciling.  It took a couple of tries to get the colors right.  I initially started off using  Drop Cloth to stencil the large wording, and that just didn’t work so I sanded it down and painted a fresh coat of the Dried Sage so I could try again. Ultimately I realized I should paint up a tester board to try and get the colors right before attempting the stencil again.

I painted the board in Dried Sage, then I added a few swipes of the Cocoa Bean because I would have a Cocoa Bean shadow under the larger words.  I tried Burlap, but it was too brown.  I tried Cashmere, but it was too yellow.  I tried Sawmill Gravy straight up, but it was too light.  Finally it occurred to me that I could mix some Sawmill Gravy with the Dried Sage itself creating a lighter version of the color.

And that was perfect.  It’s subtle, but still very legible.  Applying the stencil to the top of this bookcase adds just a little something special to it, but it’s definitely not an ‘in your face’ sort of detail.

When looking directly at the bookcase from the front you don’t even see the stencil.

I also added the bottom portion of the stencil to the top shelf using my custom mixed color.

Once everything was dry, I sanded lightly to distress and then added a couple of coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat to protect it all.

Now it’s perfect for displaying some ironstone

or maybe some brown transferware.

All this bookcase needed was a little bit of paint to bring out its charm.

What do you think?

This bookcase is for sale, so be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for details if you are local and in need of a bookcase.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint used in this makeover.

the most wonderful chair.

I recently pulled this schoolhouse chair out of my workshop to give it a fun holiday makeover.

In case it’s not obvious, this chair is child sized.  It has a bit of a mid-mod vibe, don’t you think?  I actually would have liked to strip and re-finish this one in that raw wood look, however it had some fairly significant damage to the veneer …

I feel like paint is the best way to disguise this sort of damage, so I decided to go ahead and paint the wood using Dixie Belle’s Caviar.  But I also decided to leave the legs in their rusty, worn state.  I think I’m taking a bit of a gamble with that, but I’m hoping that there will be a fellow rust lover out there who appreciates this choice.

My first step was to sand the chair all over, including those legs.  That’s just to remove any flaking bits.  Then I cleaned the chair well using TSP substitute.  Next I sprayed the legs and the metal parts of the chair back with a Rust-Oleum clear matte sealer.  I like to seal in the chipping paint and/or rust so it doesn’t continue to flake off.  So the legs are beat up and rusty, but they are clean and sealed.

Next I painted the seat and back with two coats of Caviar.  Once that was dry, I sanded to distress.

I specifically chose to sand the Caviar, and vacuum/wipe away any dust, before moving on to my next step, which is adding a stencil in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  That’s because I wanted to avoid getting any of that black dust smeared into my white lettering.  I’ve learned from experience to do this when using contrasting colors.  It’s just a good way to make sure the white stays crisp.

Next up I pulled out the Most Wonderful Time of the Year stencil that wallcutz sent to me when they offered to sponsor this post.

I added that to the seat of the chair using the Dixie Belle Drop Cloth.

It was a perfect fit.  That’s because I ordered it that way.  This stencil is available anywhere from 10″ x 10″ up to 21″ x 21″, so you can order the size best suited to your project.  In my case, that was the smallest 10″ x 10″ size.

I used a small artist’s brush to fill in the bridges in a few spots to give this a more hand-painted look rather than a stenciled look.

If, like me, you don’t particularly like to do a free-hand design on your chalkboards, this particular stencil would be perfect for that too.  It would mimic the look of a message that was handwritten in chalk.

On one of my recent posts about stenciling a reader asked me two things; what brush do I like to use for stenciling and how do I clean my stencils.  I figure if one person is taking the time to ask that in a comment, there are probably more of you wondering the same thing.

First up, my current favorite brush for stenciling is the Best Dang Brush from Dixie Belle.  I’ll admit, it’s not cheap at $25.95.  So if you don’t do a lot of stenciling, you may not want to invest in this brush.  However, if you do, it is one that won’t fall apart on you after six months of regular use like so many others.

It is a large brush, so it covers a lot of area quickly.  I like that.  The one downside to its size is that you may have to mask areas that you don’t want to accidentally hit with the paint, like over the edge, or a portion of the stencil that’s going to be a different color.  I just use painters tape for that.

Now, as for cleaning my stencils, the honest truth is that I don’t always clean them.  The only time I clean a stencil is if I’m just using it for one project at the moment and I’m about to clean my brush anyway.  That’s because I clean both at the same time under running water.  I use the Best Dang Brush to rub away the paint on the stencil, and then I finish with cleaning the brush.  This works great as long as you do it immediately upon completing your stenciling.  If you give the paint too much time to dry on the stencil it will be harder to get off.

This is certainly an instance where it’s better to do as I say, not as I do.  With a stencil that has some fairly fine details, like this one in particular, your results will remain crisp if you keep the stencil clean.  If you allow paint to build up on it, over time your edges won’t be as crisp.  So yeah, I really should clean my stencils every time I use them.  But hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

This chair just might be perfect though.  OK, well, perfection is in the eye of the beholder.  But if you love a mid-mod vibe and pieces that show a bit of history, then yes, you might call this perfect.

I think it would be adorable sitting next to the tree at Christmas, or maybe sitting next to your door to welcome guests as they arrive for the holidays.  It would also be perfect for adding to a child’s bedroom during the holiday season.  It is for sale, and if it doesn’t go to one of you local readers then I’ll be adding it to my growing stash of holiday items that I’ll take in to Reclaiming Beautiful (the shop in Stillwater, MN where I sell on consignment).

If you’re local and interested in more details, check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page.

Thank you to wallcutz for providing the stencil, and to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint and the brush used for today’s project.

an ounce of prevention.

Today’s piece is another one that I got from my friend Annie.  When she and her husband moved back to Minnesota recently, they had some excess furniture including this linen press dresser.

As you may be able to tell from that photo, this piece was subjected to a poor paint job.  It was drippy in spots, and lumpy in others, but worst of all it was a bleeder.  Over time either the previous dark stain or tannins in the wood have bled through the white paint causing all of that yellowing that you see.

So this piece required a bit of extra work in the prep phase.  I started out by stripping the two front legs using CitriStrip.  The paint job on them was particularly bad, peeling in spots, really thick in some spots, and barely covering in others.  I felt like the best option was to strip it off entirely.  Plus, they are such pretty turned legs I thought it would be fun to go with the bare leg look.

After stripping the paint, I sanded them well and then finished them with Dixie Belle’s brown wax.

Next up, I did the same with the inner drawers.

Stripped, cleaned, sanded, waxed in brown.

I cleaned up the insides of the drawers while I was at it.  I sanded them lightly, then gave them a coat of Dixie Belle’s Big Mama’s Butta in the Orange Grove scent.  Now they look great, plus they smell nice and citrusy.

For the outer shell, I prepped by sanding vigorously first with 120 grit sandpaper and my orbital sander, and then following that up with 220 grit.  My goal wasn’t to remove all of the paint, but to smooth it out.  I didn’t get it perfect, but I was going for ‘good enough’.  After cleaning away all of the dust, I gave the piece a coat of Dixie Belle’s B.O.S.S.

As it says right there in the name, it stops bleed thru.  I prefer using the clear version (it also comes in white), especially when using a dark paint color.  You may think that you don’t need a stain blocker if you’re using a dark paint, but that’s not really true.  Dark paint may help disguise the look of bleed thru, but it will still be there.  It can show up as a slight variation in the color, or sometimes the sheen, that you only see at certain angles.  Still, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Which brings me the paint color I chose for this one, Dixie Belle’s Collard Greens.

I love this dark gray green.  It looks different depending on the light, sometimes looking more green, other times looking more gray.  It was just what I wanted as a background for the I.O.D. Midnight Garden transfer.  I’d ordered this transfer on a whim a while back and it ended up being the perfect width for this linen press.

I opted not to put the existing hardware back on this dresser.  I didn’t love it, and I didn’t love the placement of the knobs with those on the top drawer not aligned with those on the bottom drawer.  I had filled all of the holes with Dixie Belle’s Mud before I painted, so once the paint was dry and the transfer was applied to that lower drawer, I measured and drilled new holes for some simple wooden knobs that I had in my stash.

I definitely prefer this more aligned arrangement over the original placement of the knobs, how about you?

I used Dixie Belle’s Easy Peasy spray wax to topcoat the Collard Greens and transfer.

I staged this one simply with some of my favorites; an old family photo, my brass bird cage, an ironstone pitcher and a Bakelite clock.

I like to think I improved this one a tad, what do you think?

This linen press dresser is for sale.  Be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page if interested in more details.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the B.O.S.S., paint, Big Mama’s Butta, brown wax and Easy Peasy spray wax used on this piece.

the raw wood experiment.

I’ve been admiring the raw wood trend in furniture refinishing for a while now.  I know it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the Scandinavian vibe of raw wood pieces.

However, I haven’t really understood why so many people are resorting to using oven cleaner to strip pieces when they want to achieve this look.  But if you can’t sand (thin veneer, have to work indoors and can’t afford a fancy sanding system, whatever the reason may be) why not just use furniture stripper?

It seems to me that oven cleaner must be harder on the environment, and your own health, than a stripper like CitriStrip.  I did a little google research and according to an article from Martha Stewart, oven cleaners can contain lye, ethylene glycol, and methanol, which can be very toxic.  Yikes!  That does not sound good to me.

Nonetheless, I thought there must be a reason why so many people are turning to oven cleaner instead of a safer stripper like CitriStrip so I decided to put it to the comparison test myself.

I’m starting out with this dresser.

I picked this up at the thrift store last winter.  It ended up being a really poor purchasing decision.  It was way overpriced for its condition, and I neglected to check it out thoroughly enough before pulling the trigger (always open ALL of the drawers).  In the end, my handyman Ken had to re-build the two lower drawers because they didn’t even have bottoms in them!  How did I not notice that??  And if that weren’t enough, he then had to completely take apart and re-glue the back of the piece as well.

Once all of that was done, I stripped one drawer front using CitriStrip and one using oven cleaner.  Here are the results after one pass with each.

I definitely got a better result with CitriStrip.  Clearly it did a much better job of removing the dark stain than the oven cleaner.  What I’ve heard from other furniture refinishers is that it often takes several passes with the oven cleaner to achieve the desired results.  While it’s true that it can sometimes also take two passes with the CitriStrip, that’s often not the case (this piece required just one application).

The method I used with the oven cleaner was to spray it on heavily, wait 30 minutes, scrub the finish with a brush, hose off to rinse.

I’m having trouble figuring out how this is easier than using stripper, especially if you have to do it three times to get the desired result.

Both processes are quite messy.  However, the oven cleaner method pretty much requires you to be outside on a surface that you don’t mind drenching in dirty, stain filled oven cleaner.  Your driveway?  Your lawn?  Your cement patio?  I’m not sure I want to add oven cleaner to any of those areas.

With the Citristrip, I prefer to use it outside as well, but I’m not washing it off with the hose.  I’m scraping it off with a plastic scraper and then wiping it off into a disposable cup.  I have stripped the tops of pieces indoors in winter too (winter is coming!).  I’m just more careful not to fling the stripper around as I’m scraping it off.  CitriStrip in particular does not have any toxic fumes and can be used indoors with adequate ventilation.

Finally, drenching your piece of furniture in water from the rinsing process can create all kinds of problems such as loosened joints, loosened veneer, swelling, and raised grain.

After my experiment with the two drawer fronts, and considering all of the above factors, I decided that stripping furniture with oven cleaner just isn’t for me.  I’ll stick with the CitriStrip.  I gave my extra can of oven cleaner to my neighbor so she can clean her oven.

However, even though it only took one pass with the CitriStrip for this dresser, and I preferred it over the oven cleaner, ultimately this project reminded me how much I dislike stripping entire pieces of furniture regardless of the method.  I don’t mind stripping a nice flat top here or there.  Or maybe even just the drawer fronts (you’ll see that coming up on my next piece of furniture).  But stripping an entire piece is messy and time consuming whether you use stripper or oven cleaner.

So, as much as I like the raw wood look that is so trendy right now, I doubt you’ll be seeing a lot of it from me.

And that brings me back to today’s makeover.  After all of the work it took to repair this dresser, and then to strip it, I was ready to just chuck it on the firepit when I realized that after all of my hard work the wood itself wasn’t the nice, light color I was hoping for.  But I already had so much into this piece, I knew I had to keep going.  I decided that white wax might be a great way to lighten up the color of the wood.  So I ordered up some of Dixie Belle’s white wax and then tested it out on a single drawer front.

Yikes!  Nope.  It was way too white, and it really enhanced the grain, which wasn’t a feature I particularly wanted to enhance on this dresser.  I have used white wax on other stripped wood and really loved the look, but those pieces had much more subtle grain patterns.  It definitely wasn’t the look I was going for.

That brings me to your q tip for today; you can remove furniture wax using mineral spirits. 

In my case I dampened a scrubby pad with mineral spirits and scrubbed off the wax, then followed that up with a soft cloth with more mineral spirits to wipe away any last remaining bits of white wax.  See?  White wax is gone …

And then I went back to the drawing board.  I still didn’t love the look of this raw wood, I wanted it to be lighter.  This would be the perfect opportunity to test out one of the two-part wood bleaching kits that are on the market.

Sure it would.  If I could find one.

I went to Home Depot, Menards & Fleet Farm, they were all sold out.  Of course.  The bleached wood look is so trendy that stores can’t even keep those kits in stock.  I did find one available on Amazon where it was over $50 when you added in shipping (despite having Amazon prime).  There was no way I was spending $50.

So that left the DIY version of lightening the wood using regular old household bleach and the power of the sun.

Mr. Q and I hauled the piece out into the sunniest spot in the yard and I used a brush to coat it in straight up bleach.

Then I left it outside to sunbathe all day.

The dresser certainly seemed lighter after its sunbathing.  I have to say it wasn’t a night and day sort of difference.  I’ve also read that you often have to repeat the bleaching 2 or 3 times to get the desired result as well.

People who do these things clearly have way more patience than I do!  Good gracious.  Three passes with oven cleaner, followed by three sunny days of bleaching??  Not for me.

I decided to move on to the next step, which is neutralizing the bleach by wiping the dresser down with vinegar water (I used about a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water).  Once the piece was dry again, I sanded it first with 120 grit, and then again with 220 grit.

The work was still not done!  After vacuuming away the dust and deciding the raw dresser looked pretty good, I still had to seal it.  I did a lot of research on the world-wide web and saw that many people noted that adding a clear coat can darken the wood right back up again (or bring red/orange tones back out).  I also noted some people that thought wax did the same.

However, I’ve found that although the wax darkens the finish as it goes on, it does dry lighter.  So once again I pulled out a drawer to experiment.

As you can see, the side of the drawer on the left with the freshly applied wax is darker than the unwaxed right side.

However, here is the same drawer after about 20 minutes of dry time.

I couldn’t really see a color difference between the waxed and unwaxed halves of the drawer at that point.  Just a side note here, both of those photos are a bit over exposed and lit with my very bright workshop lighting.  I don’t want to mislead you into thinking the wood got that light from one afternoon of bleaching.  It didn’t.

I went ahead and clear waxed the entire dresser.  That left me with the question of the drawer pulls.  I really didn’t want to put the existing pulls back on.  I doubt they were original to the dresser, they are totally the wrong style.  They are also way too dainty for the look I wanted to achieve.

Normally with a dresser like this I would have filled the double holes, painted over the filled holes and drilled new holes for knobs rather than pulls.  Knobs are much more affordable than pulls.  But since that wasn’t an option here (since I didn’t paint this piece), I had to come up with a 3″ pull that wasn’t too terribly expensive because I needed 10 of them.  Once again, the search was on.  I looked all over the place for an affordable option, but in the end I just wanted to get this dresser finished so I splurged on a $4.49 cup pull.  Yep, ouch, adding $45 to my expenses for this piece.

That being said though, I really felt like the hardware was pretty important to the overall final raw wood look of this dresser.  So it was worth the extra $45.  Or at least I hope so.

In the end, I do rather love how it turned out.

However, I will say that this is not a piece for a perfectionist.  It has plenty of dings and gouges, some discoloring in spots that wouldn’t come out, and some funky repairs to the drawers.  But it is fairly solid after Ken basically rebuilt it.  And I would say that it has tons of character and a certain rustic charm.

So tell me, what do you think of the raw wood look?  Are you dying to have your own piece?  Or do you think it would look good in someone else’s home, but just not yours?

I have to admit, it was a bit tongue in cheek to use a photo of my grandmother while staging this piece.  I’m quite sure she would consider this dresser unfinished looking.

But then, that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

This raw wood look dresser is for sale, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details on this piece and any others that I currently have listed.

the linen press.

Whenever I’m considering how to paint a piece of furniture, my go-to for inspiration is usually Pinterest.  If I’ve purchased a empire style antique dresser, I’ll go on Pinterest and search “painted antique empire dresser” and see what comes up.

But it was pretty comical when I started researching “painted linen press” recently because the majority of photos that came up first were all my own pieces staring with this one.

This was one of my early postings here on the blog back in June 2014.  It’s painted in Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg and I applied vintage wallpaper to the insets.

Let me note here that in my own personal lexicon, a ‘linen press’ is any piece of furniture where you open up doors on the outside to reveal inner drawers like the ones shown above.  I believe that pieces like this were initially intended to store linens.

I suspect that not very many people call them by this name and that’s why, when I searched Pinterest for examples of linen presses, photos of my own pieces dominated the screen.

In addition to that wallpapered piece, there were also a few shots of this piece

I painted that one back in 2017.  It’s painted in Homestead House milk paint in a color called Bedford on the outside and has an early prima marketing transfer on the front.

The inside on this one was a little more unique in that it was half shelves and half drawers.

I painted the interior in a custom mix of Fusion’s Liberty Blue and Coal Black.

Pictures of this one from October 2018 came up several times as well.  This one is absolutely one of my all time favorites.

It’s painted in Dixie Belle’s In the Navy on the outside, and Fusion’s Limestone on the drawer fronts followed by the French Ceramics transfer from re.design with prima.

It had a gorgeous wood top that I stripped and then just waxed with Dixie Belle’s brown wax.

Another piece that showed up in the search was this one from April 2018.

This one was a bit of a challenge.  I initially painted it with milk paint that pretty much entirely chipped back off.  So I sanded it down and started over with Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth on the outside, and their Mint Julep on the inside.  I also added my old favorite Seeds transfer from Prima to the front.

This piece from March of 2016 came up as well.

It’s painted in Rachel Ashwell’s short-lived line of chalk paint in a color she called Caribbean Sea.  I added some vintage wallpaper to it as well.

I have to say, all I can think of when looking at the photos of that one is how much I struggled to try and make my shed work as a photo cottage.  It took a lot of photo editing to get those pictures to look even semi-decent.

This piece from September 2014 came up as well.

You know what stands out to me in that photo?  Look how small my Limelight hydrangea was in 2014!  It’s the one on the right side.  It’s about twice that size now.

Anyway, it’s painted in American Paint Company’s mineral/chalk paint in Navajo White.

The inner drawers are painted in Annie Sloan’s Louis Blue.

I guess you could say that I’ve painted a good number of linen presses over the years.  And I’ve used quite a few different brands of paint.  I was really hoping to get inspired by someone else’s linen press makeover on Pinterest though!  There were a handful of other painted versions, but nothing that really jumped out at me.

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, I am about to start working on another linen press dresser.

But so far I haven’t entirely decided what my plan is.  For now I’m going to get started on the prep work.  I will sand it down and give it a coat of Dixie Belle’s B.O.S.S. because if you look closely in that photo above you can see that this piece is a bleeder.  The stain and/or tannins in the wood have bled through the white paint.  I also may (or may not) attempt to strip the paint from the top and the front legs.  I don’t know, we’ll see.  So be sure to stay tuned, I want to get this one finished up before the temps drop too low to paint outside.

In the meantime, tell me, do you call these linen presses?  And which one of my linen press makeovers is your favorite?  Leave a comment and let me know.

updating a parlor table.

I shared the parlor table that I picked up at the East Isles sale last weekend on Monday.

I’d painted another six-legged table a few years ago and it turned out quite nice …

so I thought I’d try my hand at giving another one an updated look.

With that table, I stripped and then refinished the top with Homestead House Stain & Finishing Oil in Driftwood.  I don’t often use that product though, simply because it’s oil based.  It takes forever to dry, and it’s pretty smelly.  However, if you’re working outside and you have some time, it does create a lovely finish.

But this time I decided to go for a similar look using a different technique.  Once again, I stripped off the original finish from the top of the table using CitriStrip.  I used Klean Strip After Wash after the stripper to make sure I’d gotten all of the stripper residue off.  Once that was dry, I sanded the top with 220 grit paper to smooth it out.  Then I added just one coat of Varathane’s Sunbleached fast drying stain.

I let that dry for a full 24 hours, and then added a couple of coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat over the stain for protection.

First, here’s how the table top looked when I brought it home.

And here is how it looks now.

Um, yeah.  Night and day, right?  I am constantly amazed by how much you can change the look of something with a little stripping, sanding and staining.

I had used Rust-Oleum Chalked spray paint to paint the base of that first six-legged table to make it easier to get those six legs covered with paint.

I debated going that direction with today’s table, but have you priced that spray paint lately?!  The last time I looked it was up to $11.48/can at Menards.  I did see it for $9.99/can at Target, but there weren’t many colors available there.  It would likely take most of a can to cover the base of this table.  And you know me, I’m nothing if not cheap.

So instead, I decided to go ahead and paint the base with a brush and paint that I already had on hand.  I just wasn’t sure which color, so I tested out a few ideas.  I painted a swatch of three different Dixie Belle colors onto sections of the base; French Linen, Dried Sage and Gravel Road.  In the end, I decided the Gravel Road looked best with the stained top.

That kind of surprised me a bit.  I really thought I was going to like a lighter color with that light top, but nope.  In the end, the Gravel Road won out.

Once the paint was dry, I sanded lightly to distress and then added a coat of clear wax.

In the 1800’s, a parlor table like this one was meant to be the focal point in the center of one’s parlor.  It would have been surrounded by seating, perhaps a small sofa and several chairs.  It would likely have held the oil lamp, and in the evening the family would have gathered around to read or sew.  Since they didn’t have electric lamps, the lamp didn’t need to be on a table near an outlet on the wall, so it could be in the center of the room.

These days having a parlor table in the middle of your room would feel a bit odd I think.  However, this table would make an awesome alternative nightstand.  It would also work really well in a large foyer or hallway.

And hey, notice anything different about the carriage house in the background of that photo?

Well, I’m sure no one would notice but us, but we have a new roof!

While I was working on refinishing the parlor table, there was massive chaos all around me as a team of brave souls clambered around on our roofs.  They worked two 12 hour days to get it all done.  I feel a bit lame that all I accomplished was one small table makeover in the same timeframe.

It feels great to have a nice, new roof to take us into the fall and winter.

Anyway, back to the table.

What do you think?  Did I meet my goal of updating an antique parlor table?

This table is for sale so be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page if interested.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the Gravel Road paint used on this project.

the chateau dresser.

I have another do-over for you guys today.

Remember the fine print dresser?

I painted this one back in March, and it did not sell.  Now granted, as I’ve gone on and on about, sales have slowed way down for me overall.  As a quick update on that, the pair of modern end tables I painted in July did sell within a few weeks.  In addition, I took the bench with the Gregory’s Catalogue paint inlay on it into the shop where I sell on consignment and it sold pretty quickly there.  So things are starting to move a bit.

But back to this one.  I have to admit, I didn’t absolutely love the color combination of the Drop Cloth background with the Sawmill Gravy stencil.  So I decided to re-work just the front of this piece.

Plus, I really wanted to use the Chateau paint inlay from I.O.D.

I learned a really great tip by watching a YouTube video from Lynne at ellen j goods, and that is, you can cut up those pieces on the packaging that show the layout of the design and then move them around like puzzle pieces to create different looks.

So I cut up my packaging and started playing around.  First, here is how the design is shown on the packaging.

You could also turn the one design into two separate designs.

And both of them could be flip flopped, the deer could face outward and the floral urn could be split up on either side.

Here’s another option for using the entire design.

You can continue to create even more options if you’re comfortable with cutting up the individual sheets a bit.

If you have a tall, more narrow piece rather than a wide piece you could use that look above and just remove the side pieces with the deer on them.

Hats off to whoever designed this paint inlay, I’m impressed by the ability to move it around in so many ways and still have the different elements line up with each other.

Here is what I came up with for my piece.

I debated removing the deer (if you look closely you can see they are cut out), but in the end I decided to leave them in.

The full design was just a bit too tall for my piece, so I removed a section that I didn’t use at all and I moved those swags to either side at the bottom where they will actually be on the legs of the dresser.  Had I left them where they were in the original design they would have fallen off the bottom of the dresser.  Here’s how one looks on a leg.

Once I had my layout figured out, I trimmed the blank edges of the paint inlay (for more on the complete process of using a paint inlay, see my how-to post) and then cut up the sheets to match my final design and laid it out on a table so it was ready to go.

To prepare the dresser I first took the drawer pulls back off (I left the keyhole escutcheons in place) and sanded down the stenciled front of the dresser.

Today’s q-tip:  if you’re painting over a stenciled design you will see the ridges of the stenciled paint if you don’t sand them down.

You may also be wondering about painting over a previously waxed finish.  This dresser was finished with clear wax back in March, so about 5 months ago.  You can paint over cured Dixie Belle wax, and the cure time is about 30 days.  In addition, the fact that I sanded the piece pretty thoroughly to knock down that stencil was enough to prep this piece for another coat of paint.

Next I gave the dresser front a coat of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  No need to repaint the sides, of course they still looked good and I wasn’t going to bring the paint inlay around to the sides.   I let my first coat dry, and then applied the paint inlay to a 2nd wet coat of paint.

After pulling the backing paper back off and letting the paint dry, I sealed it with some Rust-oleum matte clear spray sealer.  Then I sanded to distress, cleaned away any dust, and followed up with a quick coat of clear wax.

Next I decided to add more paint to the drawer pulls.  If you’ll remember back to the original treatment of this dresser, the pulls and escutcheons looked like this …

When I put one back on the dresser with its new inlay, I thought they looked way too busy.  So I toned them down by adding two coats of Drop Cloth and then wet distressing them only slightly this time.

Now they blend in quite a bit more.

And as for the keyhole escutcheons, as I mentioned earlier, I left them in place while applying the paint inlay and it worked well to just go right over them.

In hindsight, another option would have been to remove them completely and save them for another piece of furniture.  But as they say, hindsight is always 20/20.  I didn’t think of that originally.

I left the top of the dresser as it was, stripped and finished with white wax.

I staged my photos in the garden with the carriage house in the background.  Lately this has become my favorite spot for photo taking.

I included an old Bakelite clock,  some vintage books in a color found in the inlay and a basket full of hydrangeas.

These blossoms are from my Vanilla Strawberry paniculata hydrangea.  As you may have noticed, there is a lot of vanilla and not really any strawberry.  The pink does develop over time, and these blooms have only just started to open.  I’m sure I’ll be doing a Sunday mornings in the garden post about my hydrangea in the next few weeks as the paniculata’s come into their full glory.  So stay tuned for that.

I’m a fan of the muted colors in the paint inlay, they have a bit of a fall feel to me.

There is a fabulous olive green, some terra cotta colors, and a smoky teal blue.

I really enjoy working with these I.O.D. paint inlays.  They certainly give pieces a unique, hand-painted look.  Personally, I feel like once you have an understanding of how they work, they are easier to use, and somewhat more forgiving, than transfers.  However, I wish they weren’t so expensive!  If you can manage to get more than one use out of them (they say you can use them up to three times), the cost per use goes down considerably though.  I’ll be experimenting more with that in the future.

In the meantime, what do you think of this do-over?  Did you prefer the more subtle look of the fine print dresser?  Or maybe you even preferred the original orange oak look of this one.

The chateau dresser is for sale so be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details if interested.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint used on this project.