Monday, January 13, 2014

From Stuffy to Fabulous . . . Redoing a Dining Set with Farmhouse Charm

I am constantly on the look out for great furniture pieces I can re-do.  I pay attention to the lines of the furniture, but really don't care much about the finish, since I know I will be redoing it.  So when I found a vintage dark cherry finish dining set for only $90 on Craigslist, I was thrilled . . . It had simple curvy legs, upholstered backs and French charm.  I instantly envisioned what it would look like.  When I first brought it home, it was dark and stuffy . . . not the casual farmhouse look I wanted.  So, digging in to my stash of gunny sacks, I reupholstered the backs with a mix of both coffee and potato bags.  I knew sitting on burlap is scratchy, so on the seats I used painters cloth . . . you can buy large paint tarps at hardware stores for very inexpensive . . . it is strong, washes up nicely and has the farmhouse look I like.  It is always a great option for reupholstering on a budget!  The finish on this set, while in good condition, was too dark and formal.

I am sorry I don't have "before" pictures . . . I always "mean" to take them, but I end up getting so excited to dig in and start creating that I often forget!  

So, first I roughed it up a bit, since it was shiny and I wanted the paint to adhere well.  Next, I painted it with cream chalk paint.  I do not use the expensive chalk paints . . . I have experimented with several recipes and finally landed on one that I love.  It is so inexpensive to make and works great.

Here is my recipe:

Because of the "grit" in the chalk paint, it adheres well and does not require a primer.  After painting all the pieces with this, I distressed it all so a bit of dark wood showed through here and there.  I just used a 100 grit piece of sand paper for this.  Then I used dark walnut Bri-wax.  I loved it rubbed over the cream color . . . since the walnut stain is a bit of a cooler wood stain color than most, it gave the wood kind of a barn wood look to it.  In the end, I had a set that was casual, chic and full of farmhouse character.  I sold it to a sweet young family who were so excited to add it to their decor.  I always love it when I know pieces I redo are going to somewhere where they will be loved.  I suppose it sounds silly, but those pieces kind of end up carrying a piece of me with them . . . I guess because I poured a lot of blood, sweat, tears and creativity into them.  Sort of feels like I am giving away one of my little chicks!  


One thing I always try to do when looking for furniture pieces to redo, is to look at it with my "after eyes" . . . that is to try to see it for what it "could be" not what it is.  There are those few pieces that will just be ugly regardless (such as some of the 70's furniture that looks like it came from the set of "Camelot"), but so many pieces just need a little love and imagination.  Try to envision it a different color, perhaps with new upholstery.  Would new hardware help?  Sometimes you can even remove certain "overdone' details such as ornate wood trim to go with the more simpler lines seen in today's decor.  So put on your "after eyes" . . . see what this ugly before piece can become.  It can open a whole new world of possibilities to you!