Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Bedroom Facelift

I decided that the furniture my husband and I had been dragging around like literal life-baggage needed a facelift. We recently moved to a new city, have a nicely remodeled duplex house that is crisp and clean and airy, and we have it all to ourselves...the youngest has moved out.

Our marriage is five-years young (it's not the first for either of us), but our furniture has been through many relationships. When we got married, we just made do with the pieces we had and didn't worry about matching anything. However, I have been thinking for a while about painting the furniture in a shabby-chic style, and maybe covering the headboard with dense foam and fabric. We live in a beach town and I am envisioning a finish that resembles driftwood. I am a little apprehensive about painting good oak furniture which was highly desirable in its heyday, even though it is a bit wore by almost 40 years of use. I could just refinish the tops and call it good, but the lighter, whitewashed and distressed look is calling me.

My bedroom set was inherited from my first marriage in 1978. It's good quality, heavy oak with a lot of detailed molding, all wood. None of that fake plastic molding like some country-style furniture reproductions in the 80s-era. I still have the Queen headboard, my triple-dresser with a tall center mirror, and the two nightstands. The ex has the matching chest-of-drawers. I am using my triple-dresser as a buffet/sofa table right now in between the dining room and living room areas of the house.  

My husband uses a chest-of-drawers that belonged to his dad. He still has some other pieces to the set that have been in storage, including his mom's vanity that features a curved center drawer and a big 3' x 3' mirror. Also a round vanity stool, full headboard, bench, but no nightstands. The set is all wood with delicate curved moldings around the drawers. I believe it is a vintage Danish design from the 1940s. It's not heavily grained like my oak furniture and the finish is lighter. His chest-of-drawers is the one piece still in pretty fair condition. The vanity has stains on the top and the wood is very dry from being stored in a garage.

Unfinished vanity that needs some TLC
I am going to begin with the vanity, coating it with a spray-on primer/bonder and then painting it red (Smoked Paprika 4048, Clark+Kensington, satin interior latex with primer). Then I will white-wash (Crisp Linen 4052) over the red and sand it back to reveal the red and some of the original wood. Some kind of stain or wax rub will go over that, then a polyurethane sealer will finish it off.

I selected a deep blue (Saphire 1018) for my husband's chest-of-drawers. That will also be white-washed and stained to sort of tie the finishes together. I plan to use the vanity as my night stand and replace his night stand with a blemished one I picked up at a furniture store recently. It has curved moldings around the drawers, and even though it curves outward while the bedroom set moldings curve inward, I thought the lines of the pieces complement one another better than my old night stands we are currently using. 

The China Hutch

The China Hutch Distressing Project

My husband has been carting his mother's china hutch around for the past 25 or 30 years. Its a Danish modern style hutch with a dark walnut finish. There is a top 3-shelf hutch with glass doors and cross-hatch embossed glass side lights. The base features two sliding doors with a stationary center section of wood with a diamond-hatch design.

I previously tried to lighten up the look by lining the back of the hutch with a white contact paper with black damask swirls. When we lived in our previous house with light gray walls, the dark wood worked pretty well. I had the hutch full of crystal glasses and bowls from both my husband's and my collections. Those things have been packed up and stored now, and I am not sure how much of it I will actually unpack now that we are in our new place.

But now, after moving into a new house near the beach, I wanted a completely different look. I decided to paint it a light sea-blue color (Harbor Lane 1044, Clark+Kensington, satin interior latex paint and primer combo) and bring out the details with a driftwood stain (Minwax).

The hutch is now the focal point of the entry to our home. The front door is located between the kitchen and dining areas, so when the door opens, this is the first impression one gets of our place. I really wanted it to look inviting, beachy, and crisp. A beach-scene original acrylic painting done by my former boss's wife sets the mood I was looking for in my entry and ties into the finish of the hutch just perfectly. I think I will just put in glassware that we actually use, with a few artsy accents like sea shells or objects-de-art, as I collect them. Mission accomplished!

How I did it: First I cleaned the hutch with a degreaser. The wood is a very thin veneer that I hesitated to sand much, so I simply sprayed it with a primer/bonder and then painted right over that with the Harbor Lane blue. I put on two good coats, then it was time for distressing! I sanded the paint back to the wood on all the edges, running the sanding block up and down and side to side to create different variances along the edges. Then I took a hammer and banged the sides and top surfaces, letting the hammer skip like a rock as I dented up the surface. This was really fun and strangely gratifying! Then I sanded the surfaces again, varying the pressure so the paint would be thinner in some places. Next, I applied a light coating of stain all over and let it dry for a few hours before wiping some off with a rough cloth. That way there were lines and streaks that resemble a subtle wood grain left in the stain coat. I let that finish dry for another whole day before sealing the entire hutch with two coats of polyurethane satin finish.

My husband took the hardware to work and cleaned it in an ultrasonic machine for cleaning motorcycle parts, then I put it all back on as it originally was intended.