Tuesday, August 13, 2013

DIY Furniture Makeover

My sporadic posting is attributed to some major DIY projects that required more attention than I anticipated.  These furniture makeovers I see all over the blogosphere got my creative juices flowing.  I began searching on Etsy, Craigslist, and Ebay for a project that I could tackle, and I began contemplating where in our tiny city condo we could put the soon to be masterpiece.  After some severe stalking, I finally found a credenza aka server aka sideboard aka mini bar that was just the right size, style, and price.  Talk about price.  People were asking for $200-$1,000 for an old piece of furniture!  The nice old hobbyist from Craigslist sold me mine for $40.  

Thar she is.  She's a curvy French colonial type who was actually just beautiful on her own.  She's taking the place of our shoe cabinet that served as a catch all for anything touching me when I got home from work.  She's bigger, fancier, and she's making a much better use of the space we have here.  Did ya notice the wall color changed back there?  Like I said, we've been busy.

Thanks to my loving parents, we were able to transport our treasure via Dad's truck, and I got my first taste of what moving might be like when I hauled it up the stairs with the boo.  This might be the heaviest thing we own, considering most of our furniture is particle board Ikea.  Dad gave me some tools to use for the refinishing, and I got started only a week later.

My first step was removing all the drawers and all of the hardware from the drawers.  I labeled each handle as I removed it so I'd know where to put it back later.  I also labeled inside each drawer on a piece of painter's tape where each went (top middle, bottom, left, right, etc).  Then it was time to sand.  Thanks to Dad I had a power sander by my side.  I seriously don't know if I could have done this project without it.  I used sandpaper on the curvy edges, but otherwise the sander was my grail.  For painting, it's only required to remove the gloss from the previous finish before priming.  Although I could have gotten to bare wood (and I did in a few spots) I didn't need to.  

After sanding, I wiped the piece down with wet paper towels and a tac cloth (surprisingly sticky) and got to priming.

I used Glidden Gripper Latex primer on the body of the credenza and Zinsser Cover Stain (oil based) in spray paint on the drawers.  In my research for this project, I read that a spray primer is good for cabinets and drawers because it makes the job faster.  I think I could have gone either way, but they both worked well.  I wasn't too upset about any brush marks because this was a first of many coats.  Any drips I sanded out after it dried.

For spray painting I took the drawers to the deck, where Harry supervised most of my work.  

It took me what felt like three years to pick a paint color.  I wanted to match the colors in our kitchen, but at the same time I didn't want the piece to look like that suburban "country" style.  My mom gave me an idea for doing a "faux marble" top and I took a few too many trips to Home Depot for disappointing paint samples.  The determining factor, eventually, was using the Behr Colorsmart app.  I took a picture of our carpet and pointed to the colors I wanted to match.  The app told you what Behr color closely matched.  When it gave me the shade "Hidden Forest" I was intrigued.  There were no paint swatches for it in the store; it existed solely on my iPhone.  After 15 minutes of hesitating in the paint aisle, I went for it.  In semi-gloss enamel.
Then I opened it and was surprised by how bright it was.  Shocked really.  I considered doing a "dine & ditch" paint style....hmmm a "dye & ditch"?  I even went into a tool aisle, opened the can up with a screw driver that still had tags on it, and took pics of the paint color which were frantically sent to the boo asking for approval.

It must have taken 6 or 7 coats to get the credenza finished.  Because I used a white primer, it was shining through the dark green.  The first coat looked awful.  Since I used a roller it came off with a sponge paint effect which gradually went away with each fresh coat.  Between coats wiping the pieces with a tac cloth was necessary.  Even with Harry on the couch throughout the project, his hairs were flying into the wet paint and sticking.

Once the final coats of paint went on, I proceeded to faux marble the top.  I taped off the parts where the top and bottom connected, and the rolled on an eggshell white paint that we've been using to paint the walls in the rest of the house.  Some stains were creeping through which makes me think I should've done another coat of primer on the top.  So three coats of white later, I was ready to faux marble.

I've never faux marbled and found this tutorial extremely helpful.  It was my go to guide throughout the process.  The tutorial recommends "veining" your marble using three shades of grey and painting them with a feather.  The woman in the tutorial is some kind of faux marble genius, because I did not get the same real effect she did....mine looks real from afar, but you can kind of tell it's paint up close.  She had a slab of marble for reference and I had the computer.  It took about an hour or so of "veining" for me to be satisfied.

The final step for faux marbling is mixing 3 parts water with 1 part white paint and painting over your veining.  I did this and almost cried.  It pretty much wiped away my hard work.  So I took a damp paper towel and lightly dragged it over what I had painted which thinned out my final coat to more of a final veil.  This helped dull my veins, which actually proved effective.

That evening I layered on three coats (two hours apart) of polycrylic finish on the top while watching Spring Breakers (Spraing Breaaaaaak....Spraaaaaiiing Breaaaaaaak fo-evah).  Obsessed with the final results.  Hello fancy furniture.


  1. woah! this is awesome! my art making is practically slap-stick compared to yours (literally i just slap things on and see what happens) and i appreciate that yours is so thought out. also...you should totally quit your job and do refurbishing/craftmaking/selling/your own biz. just sayin...heh heh :))

  2. oh yeah and nice chalk wall! i want to draw on it! haha!