Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kitchen table redo

I grew up in an old house with old furniture, and making improvements by being creative was part of the game.  I had done some refinishing of furniture with my mom way back when, but had never taken the initiative on my own until two years ago when we first moved to this house.  I decided to tackle a project I'd been wanting to do - the kitchen table.  We bought this table and chairs at a yard sale years ago, and I had had the itch to paint the table black from the beginning, which I hoped would give it a Pottery Barn feel.

It was okay.  For a first project, it was probably pretty good, but I have learned a lot since then.  For instance, I learned that a high-traffic piece of furniture like a daily-used table needs to be well sealed.  After painting, I had just used a spray polyurathene {it seemed easiest}.  Over the two years since that was done, the table had become really chipped.  It always looked like it had crumbs on it {and I promise it didn't always have crumbs on it}.

I had been wanting to re-refinish {!} the table, but being pregnant, I couldn't be around the chemicals.  So, when Elizabeth was here, I took full advantage of her willing attitude.  We took the table top outside {the base was fine} and set it up on some sawhorses.  She put the stripping goop on the table top and smooshed it around and we waited for it to bubble up.  She covered the whole table thoroughly - this picture was taken halfway through.

Then she scraped it down as best she could with a plastic scraper.  Plastic is best for this because metal can scratch the wood.  Doesn't it look frightening, like something out of a horror movie?

Then began a marathon of sanding.  We {read: Elizabeth} started with 60 grit sandpaper and a hand sander, and sanded her way through progressively higher grits, ending at 220.  Handsome Hero since informed me that didn't actually need to sand wood to anything over 120.  Oh, well.  We did.

I was a little paranoid about sanding thoroughly, because I didn't do enough of it the first time around and it always felt a little rough. In the right light the sanding marks could be seen a bit.  Here it is about halfway through thne process.  If you look closely, you can tell that we used a circular motion.  We also kept the sander moving so that there are no divets.

Still sanding....   What a trooper!

After that was done, we took it outside, far from anything that wouldn't benefit from some black paint {a.k.a., the house}, and began to spray.  We did a coat of primer, and then four light coats of black paint.

Now, here's where you may be thinking What?  Why would you go to all that trouble to go black again?  Why not branch out?  Make a statement?  I agree, and had thought of a bazillion ways to redo this table top, none of which were approved by the man of the house.  He was reluctant to do anything too crazy on a piece of furniture that is so noticeable, especially something I might tire of quickly.  My ideas mostly centered around

1.  painting the top a contrasting color {this idea was nixed immediately} or
2.  staining the top {nixed by both of us because the chairs are stained and the floor is hardwood already so it would be a bit overkill} or
3.  doing some stenciling effect with black paint and stain {which was acceptable until Handsome Hero realized that the stencils I was looking at, ones that would cover the whole table, would run us around $50, which seemed exhorbitant considering that's what we paid for the table and chairs a few years ago}.

And so I went back to the drawing board.

I would like to insert here that Handsome Hero is not averse to my craziness.  When he has an objection, there is a good reason.  He gave the green light to my yellow chandelier, the blue dresser, and everything else that has been done in this house, so I can't complain.  He may not understand me, but he'll usually go along with me!  Sometimes he shakes his head a little, but he loves that I take pride in our home and strive to make it our own.

Anyway, here's the finished black table top.  It was really smooth, thanks to lots of sanding, and the color was nice and even.

Oh, did you think we were done?  Heavens, no!  I found a solution!  Martha Stewart makes some really cool stencils {sold at Michael's}, and I found one that in really subtle grays with a pop of yellow would look awesome under the yellow chandelier.  And it was approved by the man.

Now, I had planned on using some white and black stencil paint I already had and mixing them for my colors, but they are acrylic and my paint and polyurathene are both oil based, so I asked the paint guy at Michael's what he would do.  I didn't want to have to redo this project because the paint wouldn't stick!  He suggested Martha Stewart's new line of all-purpose acrylic stencil paints that are supposed stick to all surfaces, even ones on which oil-based paint has been used. 

We did that, and here's the first flower.  Subtly awesome, no?

Stenciling was surprisingly easy {it was our first time}.  You just have to make sure your brush has barely any paint on it and stipple away.  It was actually lots of fun.  Immediate gratification and all that.

After doing several dark flowers, I added some white paint, and we went around again, as randomly as possible.  We actually took turns deciding where the next flower would go to keep it from being too purposeful-looking.

After we had three different shades of gray, we called it good.

Here's where my heart started beating really fast.  The grays had been a bit scary, having never stenciled before, but adding bright yellow?  Yikes!

Despite my fears, it was great.  Awesome, even.  We added flowers until we thought that any more would look crowded. 

Then we took the table top back outside and sealed it with polyurathene.  Because this table lives inside, only one to two coats were recommended, but we did three because of all the abuse it gets.  We lightly sanded with 220 grit sandpaper between each coat, and it was finished!  Here she is! 

I LOVE it!  It's modern and unusual, but still fits in with our house.  So far it's been really easy to wipe up, which is good since we couldn't use real cleaners on it for two weeks!

Keeping it black tied it in with the black in our kitchen countertops.  Good call, Handsome Hero.

I love how it is just a bit whimsical but not overpowering.

And another kitchen shot with a bit more emphasis on the chandelier...

Fun.  I had to mix the yellow and didn't try to match it exactly to the chandelier, but did try to get it into the same family.  Here it is from the other side, in case you wanted to know.  It's really glossy, which I like in furniture.  The kids keep looking at their reflections, which is apparently endlessly fascinating.  For a less glossy look, you could use a lower sheen polyurathene.  They even make one with a matte finish.

I am quite happy with the results.  I would love to say it wasn't that hard, but since I didn't do it, I'll just say that it wasn't that hard to tell someone else what to do.  Heehee.

Thanks, Elizabeth, for making this little project of mine a reality!

P.S.  I always have people ask me if we're going to redo the chairs.  I would love to at some point, but for awhile at least, they are used pretty brutally by two, soon to be three, kiddos, so I'm not planning on doing anything to them for awhile.  That and I really don't relish the prospect of sanding down all of those spindles and curved surfaces.  I might prefer to just buy new chairs.