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My palms are sweaty and heart is racing the way you feel walking into your interviewer's office. It doesn't always matter how confident I am in my work, when I finish a new style of project for a client I still get as nervous as that first job interview.
A local couple contacted me earlier this year requesting that I upcycle a King bedframe for their new house. I didn't know at the time that King frames weren't made until the 80's. You know, the ones with the bulky posts and weird speckled wood sitting super low to the ground? I researched alternatives to taking an old frame and refinishing it and my favourite by far were old vintage doors. I had never taken on this big of a building project but I was determined and you know how stubborn us Dutch folks can be.
I drew up my plans and I brought them to my uncle, a woodworker for many years (Thanks again uncle Mel!), who helped me edit and add a couple pieces I had forgotten. One of my favourite parts of doing the work that I do is all of the advice and help that people I know and many that I don't will give me, all with the hope that I succeed.
I figured before I dealt with all of the structural questions I knew I'd be facing, I should pick up doors and try to figure out exactly what I was working with. After emailing a tonne of local vendors I found an awesome one in Maple Ridge "Arries Rustic Decor". Seriously, check her out, she rocks! She sold me this giant antique door over 6' tall but with some amazing detailing in it and with some rad chipped paint. I got back to the studio and little 5'3" me offloaded a 6' tall, solid wood door all by myself! I found another small door in Delta, then begged my hubby to help me lift all the big lumber I was going to need to hold up these seriously heavy doors.
The 6' door actually had to be cut down a couple of inches to fit as the headboord and the smaller door needed some 2x4s on the sides to build it up. I had it all framed and was thrilled with myself for conquering this big project.
I measured and started to attach the posts only to realize that the screws would not go in all the way, leaving an inch gap between the head and footboards to their posts. After engaging my inner muscle man and still failing brutally, I called in a family friend to tell me what I did wrong.
After laughing at me, he got out his saw and we had to cut all of the screws in half and drill them out of each hole....that was about a day of extra work from a stupid mistake. My problem is that I didn't drill my pilot hole wide enough for the screws so they were having to push through too much and got stuck on knots. For the love of God DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE!!
Finally I got to bring out the paint brush - insert victory dance - then distressed it, had a glass of wine and crashed on my couch.
After hours of work, mistakes, and many sore muscles, the amount of blankets at tie downs we used looked a bit ridiculous but hey, it didn't move an inch in our half hour travel.
Now the countdown begins. As Eminems 'Lose Yourself' plays repeat in my head I try to tell myself that any problems there could be are totally fixable.
We pull into the driveway, she walked out, took one look, and says "oh my gosh, hunny it's beautiful! Just look at it!". I can't believe that after how sweet and friendly my client had been the whole time, I ever doubted the smile I would see on her face.
So far this has been the most challenging project I've had and I am so grateful for the opportunity. It gave me a lot more confidence in myself to go on and try for bigger and better and not be afraid to fail.
I woke up one morning to a message from a family in my area with an heirloom dresser. They had seen the work I had done with "The Green Dresser" and now that they don't have the room, they wanted to sell it to someone who understands the value that this piece has for them.
They sent me a photo of the piece, and of course I new that I needed it right away!
When I heard the family's story about it being an heirloom piece that's been passed through 3 generations I wanted to take that history and apply it to the new design.
The piece had a fare amount of damage to it in the terms of deep scratches and chips from the veneer missing. Looking at things like this, it might seem a bit intimidating at first...but I'm here to help you! Here is a step by step tutorial of almost every issue that you will come in contact with when refinishing an antique with veneer.
I wanted to paint this piece in a yellow/cream shade to really make it look like a heritage piece and to compliment my favourite part...the metal handles!
Start by laying down your drop cloth, putting on a mask and sand your entire project with 60-80 sand paper. When sanding, go along the grain of the veneer as to avoid additional scratching. You do not want to sand hard; the goal is to buff out as many of the small scratches as possible. Go over again with a 150 grit sand paper. In this step you will be able to easily see where you buffed out scratches and where you will need some wood fill.
Next step....wood fill is your friend! Fill in any scratches that are too deep or any chips in the veneer that you found during your sanding adventure. It is very important to make sure that you are following the directions on your wood fill container (they're straight forward) and making sure that you sand your wood fill down as perfect as possible once its dry. If this step isn't done correct you will be able to see it through the paint regardless of how many coats you put on; paint can cover a lot of sins, but not wood fill!
One thing you might notice (The most intimidating part) is chipped veneer that is still attached. If possible, do not pull it off as you may end up creating a lot more work for yourself. I've taken a photo of the chip that I was dealing with below so that you know it doesn't really matter how bad it is, it's fixable!
I took wood glue and wipe it along the backside of the veneer that was sticking out, and the area of my project that it needed to be re-attached to then clamped it dow tight. We don't always have clamps in our houses, so I've found that a wrench with a hair tie wrapped tight around the hand grip can be tight enough.
When your wood glue is dry, sand down any glue that came through the cracks and apply wood fill to the seems. Once your wood fill is dry, sand it down and wipe your entire project with a tack cloth (a damp cotton rag will do) to remove all dust and dirt.
I ALWAYS prime my pieces. Have you ever had a painting project that chipped or didn't last nearly as long as you thought it would? That's because your paint didn't properly adhere to your project. I swear by Zinsser products which are available in Canada and the United States. The reason that I start by sanding my pieces is to make sure that I'm buffing out as many scratches as possible, but also to make it even easier for the primer to adhere. If the primer easily adheres to the project and the paint easily to the primer, you won't have to paint that sucker any time soon!!
After your primer has completely dried, give it a light sand with 150 grit or higher of sandpaper to get out any paint lines.
Again, wipe your piece completely clean with a tack cloth.
Now grab that paint brush and let the most fun part begin! You were so diligent in priming your piece that you can now choose wall paint, chalk paint, latex paint, organic paint, or almost anything else you can find to paint ... it takes 2-3 coats but always plan for 3.
Believe me, I know that waiting for your project to dry before adding more coats of paint and using it is so tempting because it already looks amazing...but being patient while your paint is drying will make a HUGE difference in the quality and texture of your work.
Polyurethane finishes or a shellac will be your best options for finishes. Apply in whatever manner that you product is telling you and make sure you follow those instructions to a T.
You're finished! Your scrapes and chips are gone, the outdated and used look is gone, and you're left with a custom and eco-friendly piece of furniture for your home!
Congratulations on your success!
In starting my business, one of my first clients was a lady from my church who had gone blind (I have clarified with her that this is the term she prefers to use). I have to be honest, one of my first questions, like maybe yours is, "What on earth could bother her about a table that she can't see?"
I gave her a call right away with the worry that there was going to be damage and dents in the piece that she was able to easily feel and may be very difficult to repair.
During our conversation she was incredibly open with me about exactly what she was worried about. She let me know that she didn't loose her sight until the early nighties. As a young girl, Maria went to an all girl's Catholic School. In this school, she was required to have her uniforms properly ironed and her bed perfectly made. If a Nun came in her room to check that her bed was made and the coin that bounced on it didn't go high enough in the air, the bed was stripped and the girls would have to start again with brand new sheets. As this was her a daily ritual from an early age, it was engrained in her to have a clean home and high standards.
As she grew older, she decided to test out her creative side in furniture restoration (we got along great!). It would drive her absolutely nutty if a piece of furniture had a scratch, chipped paint, or the dreaded cup ring. Being something she used to really enjoy, the thought ate away at her that her tables would now have blemishes that she wasn't able to feel and could no longer see.
That was the moment that I realized Maria is just as particular (ahem OCD) as I am! Being a perfectionist, I can't imaging having things done in a certain way, and that ability taken away in an instance. In Maria's case, it wasn't gradual. She has a condition that resulted in her loosing her sight within minutes.
My favourite part about working with Maria is how much she was able to challenge me in a way that no one else can. As she lost her sight so long ago, the terms 'rustic' 'modern' farmhouse style' 'distressed' and 'two toned' mean nothing to her. Try explaining farmhouse style or grey wash to someone who can't see an example of it...not so easy is it?
Maria never had her vision in the house that she lives in now. Everything that she knows about the colours, lighting, and style in her kitchen has been explained to her by many different people, which means that asking her what style she had in mind for her refinished table is just plain a stupid question.
She started by explaining to me that she does not like dark colours and would like it to match the current colours and theme of her home. The table that she wanted me to do was gorgeous in its day, but had been left outside in the rain and then put in storage without being properly cleaned, making for mould issues.
Believe it or not, the almond colour that is on the base of the table and the chairs was her idea, not mine. She wanted a light colour and suggested that it match her counter tops; that's when I offered that we honour her past of refinishing furniture by stripping and restaining the top of the table in a walnut to match some of the other antique pieces that she has in her home.
Coming up with the design and style for this table has nothing to do with Pintrest, colour swatches, seeing it in someone else's home or a magazine. This vision was all brought together by a woman who has not been able to see in 25 years but is still exactly on point with this year's style; matching her kitchen so well that we made her husband smile. Now if that isn't a project knocked out of the park then I don't know what is!
Curious to know what I did to it?
In doing this table, I was much more interested in the amazing way that the visual impaired are creative and in their descriptions of things, that I didn't take much more than a before an after.
Step by step here was the process:
1. Take CLR to the whole table and chair to remove all of the mould from being left outside
2. Sand the whole piece down with 60 grit sand paper making sure that I remove as much of the mould stains as possible
3. Sand the piece again with 220 and then 150 sand paper for a smooth finish
4. Cover the whole piece (including the underbelly of EVERYTHING to make sure that if there is any way that you missed some mould, any toxins are now literally locked into the piece. If you know much about mould, the spores can actually shoot great distance making it very dangerous to bring into your kitchen.
5. Give the primer a quick sand with 150 grit to get rid of any lines (remember, very light!)
6. Paint your piece using at least 2 coats.
7. Once you have finished painting, that's when you can stain the top. I used a cotton cloth and rubbed it in in little circles to give a more authentic look. Once you're done rubbing it in circles, make sure you wipe a clean part of your cloth along the grain of the piece so that any access stain is wiped off and you can no longer see swirls. This look was done with two coats of Dark Walnut.
8. I opted to use a spray finish by Rustoleum with a semi-gloss finish over the paint and the stain.
9. Wipe it down with a clean cotton cloth and you're good to go!
Happy Friday Everyone!
This week I finished custom tables for a client in a grey wash. I had many questions on how I did the work...so here we go!
The first step in any project is make sure your piece is worth your time. Now this doesn't have to be a picky process, but furniture with irreparable structural issues or which are made of particle board are not going to be worth your time. If your piece has deep grain in it, it will look even better!
Here is what you will need:
- A piece of solid furniture
- 150 grit sand paper
- 320 grit sand paper
- Drop cloth
- Grey paint
- White paint
- Baking soda
- A brush and roller
- Multiple cotton cloths
- A bottle of wine (optional)
Start by putting your drop cloth down (I'm the worst for this but it is important!). The first this you will do is give your piece a quick sand with your 150 grit sand paper. Many people will say that this part isn't necessary, especially if you also plan to use a primer, but if your piece will be in a high traffic area, this will help to make everything adhere even stronger.
Next, prime your whole piece in one coat (unless your primer states otherwise). I like to use Zinsser Cover Stain as it's worked like a charm for me in the past! When you're priming, the way that it looks doesn't matter at all. Once your primer is dry give it a light sand with your 320 grit sand paper. The goal with sanding is that when you run your hand across the piece it should feel completely smooth. Now make sure that you clean all of the dust off of your piece before you paint. This is one of the most important parts because any left over dust particle will create an uneven coat of paint.
Now it's time to bring out that grey paint! Make sure that the colour of grey that you choose is the darkest shade of grey that you want on your piece. Completely paint your piece in this grey as if it was going to be your final step...making sure you give it a light sand with 320 grit sand paper between coats but not including your final coat of paint. Now is a great time to pop open that bottle of wine I suggested as you don't want to do anything until your paint is completely dry.
Here's where the white wash comes in. Mix 2 tsp of baking soda with 1 tbsp of white acrylic paint and 1 tbsp of water and mix it up as best as you can making sure the finished product is very runny. The white washing part of your product must be done with a paint brush as you won't get an authentic washed look with a rolling brush.
Now if you haven't read anything else in this article, read this! To white wash, dip the very tip of your paint brush in your white wash mixture and dab on a cloth. You do not want it to have much paint on it as it will be much easier to make your piece lighter with another coat of wash than it will be to sand your piece down to bring out the dark grey again. Take your brush with a light amount of white wash on it and paint along the grain of your piece making one or two strips of white. Now take a cotton cloth and, again along the grain of the wood, wipe the white wash off; making sure that each line that you wipe off is done by a fresh piece of your cloth (yes you will use many cloths!). If a fresh section isn't used to wipe each time, your piece will look more like smooshed paint and less like a wash. Now, does this all sound easy so far? Good! That means you're doing it right!
I did two separate coats of wash in the grey tables that I finished. For these specific pieces, I also lightly distressed the corners of the small tables before putting the finish on as to bring out the curves and character that they naturally had.
For a finish, I swear by Rust-Oleum's Clear Gloss finish in a spray can. I have had a skylight leak on top of a piece that I had finished with this product for two full days and all that this water did was lift the paint...no water damage to the piece itself! Which means, NO COASTERS!
Give it at least two coats of this spray and make sure that you do not touch it for 24 hours so that it will work as hard for you as you want! After your first coat of finish, do be sure to lightly sand again with your 320 grit sand paper.
You're all done! Easy peasy right?! Now the only thing left to do is finish that bottle of wine, post it on social media, and brag about your new found talent!
May you have a relaxing and blessed weekend, friends!
Let me start by saying, from my mere 5 months of experience, that starting a business in itself is chaos. Once you're sure you can commit to this longer than the average 2 years that North Americans can to each job, you must look at the logistics. If you're like most of us, you're starting your business with the minimal of everything but knowledge. There is the ever so fun financial side, business planning, office searching, name choosing, legalities, marketing, and my personal favourite....the stationary shopping.
Shortly after my husband and I spent the most magical and romantic day committing our lives to each other, we decided that we missed the chaos of planning and should start a business! I created my business plan, began researching marketing tactics and financial planning. Within a month of making this decision we got a call that family needed help. After 6 weeks of driving back and forth to their house multiple times a day, the hubby and I took the plunge and moved in with them.
Fortunately for us, we had been running the business out of the farm that they live on, meaning I can now prime and paint a piece of furniture in between my usually care-taking shenanigans.
This is my story of starting a business in the midst of chaos.