I was looking through some blogs recently since I’m gearing up for trim work, and so many of them are like, “I wanted it to look like this thing from Pottery Barn, so I showed it to my husband and he did all the work and made it.” And, “I told my husband I wanted board and batten on all three levels, and he did the whole thing! Well, I did put in one nail just to see what the nailer felt like.”
For me (and another of my friends I won’t name) it’s more like, “I had this amazing idea that I had to do all the labor for myself. My husband rolled his eyes at me throughout the entire project and kept telling me, ‘You’d better hire a professional to do that before you destroy this whole house.'”
If I had a nickel for every time Kent told me how ugly this table was and asked me how much I paid for it on Craigslist, I would have $0.20.
And truly, the top was in rough shape. But it is a solid wood Thomasville piece with dovetail drawer construction and wood slide in excellent condition, besides which it is a perfect size for the room and the use I intended it for. So what if it was really disgusting and, um, sticky when I paid $40 for it? So what if I bought it months ago and had it white-trashing up the corner of the master bedroom in the rental for many, many weeks?
I paid more than $40 in supplies to paint it. Here’s what I bought or used from my supplies.
- sandpaper medium, fine and very fine
- tack cloth (or baby wipes, since I didn’t have tack cloth)
- primer/bond coat
- ultra dense foam roller
- paint brushes (one for each coat of primer, and one for the paint coats)
- artist brushes
- new hardware
I began by sanding down the top a fair amount. The top had all sorts of damage–blue paint, sanding marks, a rather large “A” engraved with a ball point pen. I very lightly sanded the other surfaces. I used baby wipes instead of tack cloth on the internet’s suggestion to great effect in removing all the sanding dust.
Then I covered it with Zinsser Cover Stain Primer. I did a couple of coats on top to make sure the enamel would adhere since that surface will get the most wear. I used an ultra dense foam roller everywhere I could, and a short handled angle brush everywhere else.
Then here’s the kicker. I took the time to sand down any orange peel texture I was getting from the primer with a fine sandpaper. I must have told myself a dozen times as I was working on the 6 coats of primer/paint on this baby, “You are not trying to create an heirloom quality piece. Just get it done and don’t waste too much effort on a table you’re planning to let a 6 year-old bang up.” But do I ever listen to me? No. No I do not.
My biggest win in this project was splurging (with 30% off for Labor Day) on Sherwin-Williams ProClassic self-leveling latex enamel in Snowbound. I used barely any in the 2-3 thin coats because it covered so well, so now I have plenty left over to use on trim. Again, I used the roller and the paint brush. I had the best luck rolling a section, then painting whatever the roller couldn’t get, then evening out the painted bits with the absorbent head of the roller. Going back and forth between the roller and the paint brush, thin coats, adequate drying time, and not going over things with a brush after they begin to dry (drag marks) were the keys to whatever success I achieved.
Here it is now!
I did all the white first, then painstakingly did the pink with an artist’s brush and Olympic One’s Heart’s Afire. It dried a bit more raspberry than I was hoping, but fortunately the wallpaper has plently of dark pink that makes it work. I tried masking the top with painters tape to do the edges, but the bleeding was unacceptable. I had much better luck just freehanding it very, very carefully. In my garage. In over 90 degree weather and 100% humidity. Coat after coat. That is love.
I considered using the original hardware either in its current brass finish or painted pink or something, but Flufferella wanted crystal pulls to match the crystals in her light fixtures and her desk knob (and satin nickel hardware throughout the room), so that’s what I put on. I strongly prefer this look. The brass pulls read 1980’s loud and clear.
In short, painting furniture is a big fat pain, takes a fair amount of money if you use quality materials (which you should), and an obscene amount of time. But how much would I have had to spend to get this custom look done by someone else? Way too much. Honestly, I’m doomed to the repeat this cycle (as with the stenciling in the mudroom) of despising the project and myself for ever starting it until I see the end result and then have to admit it’s pretty much awesome which means I’ll have to start the process all over again on something else.
And yes, Kent was duly impressed by the final product. I’ll give him this: he does not withhold praise for a job well done–even when he’s poo-poo’ed you all the while. Flufferella was over the moon. “Moooom! You transformed that horrible table into something absolutely beautiful. I love it!”
Which reminds me, Kent told me a couple days ago, “You did an amazing job with the lighting in this house. It really is stunning.”
Remember that, Kent Kemeny, when I tell you about the next projects, please.
Too late. He already said of my $70 dresser in the garage that I’m planning to paint, “What are you going to do with that thing in the garage? I think you should try to sell it to someone else for $80. Get rid of it.” Just you wait, Henry Higgins. Just you wait.