Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chest of Drawers Update on the Cheap

Ugly old chest of drawers
This old chest of drawers was looking pretty sad. Grubby and orange with neglect and discoloration, it begged to be spruced up. It was from a juvenile bed room set that belonged to my Uncle George and had traveled from Pittsburgh PA to Baltimore MD back int he 1960s. Talk about an old friend!

I had fallen in love with the whole chalk paint scene and visited the store/workshop franchise of the Chalk Paint Queen. Whoo was that stuff expensive! Thirty five dollars for a quart of paint and more for the wax. I was not prepared to spend much on this old dresser. 

Experts say that chalk paint is porous so waxing it is a good idea. Wax fills the pores and protects the surface. One of the beauties of chalk paint is that you don't have to sand the furniture before you paint. But the old wood sorely needed some sanding. I could not bring myself to paint over all the gunk.

I took the chest out of doors for sanding and painting. I used a medium grade sandpaper to remove old dirt and ground in dust, then moved on to a very fine grade to create a smooth surface. 

Cutting up and side and bottom of a construction size trash bag, I spread it out on the grass to use as a tarp for the drawers. I placed wax paper under the legs of the chest. Next, I removed all the drawers pulls and put them in a plastic bag.

Sanded drawers - they look better already

 I used a sample jar of Behr's flat wall paint (the kind that does not need primer). The sample cost about $3.00. The same paint in a quart cost $13.00 and I knew that would be too much.

 If I had a lot left over, I'd feel the need to paint more furniture. Like when I went faux crazy with the walls. I had to buy a second jar for another coat but it was still cheaper than either the Behr quart or the name brand chalk paint. See the painted drawers below. 

The gray was paler than anticipated (even though it matched the color sample) and had a dull look. I decided to dark wax the whole piece. I used Minwax neutral paste wax and, after research created my own dark wax. First, I softened some wax in the microwave in an old bowl, pulsing for 10 seconds at a time. You could also place some wax in a zip lock bag and set it in a bowl of hot water. It was just slightly softer. You don't want it to actually melt. Adding about one teaspoon of black oil paint (from a tube; I hardly ever use actual black in my paintings) to about 3/4 a cup of paste wax, I mixed until it looked like raw brownie batter. 

Rubbing the goo over the drawers, I yearned for the detail work and curlicues that look so beautiful after an application of dark wax.  After a few (3 or 4) minutes, I rubbed off the wax with a soft cloth and applied another coat, polishing it to a nice, smooth finish.

Just below is the painted drawer. The waxed drawer us beneath. See the difference?

Painted then waxed
I originally intended to sand and clear coat the wooden drawer pulls. It would have looked nice against a very dark gray but did not work against the lighter gray. Black did not work for me either. There was a bag of old drawer pulls in the basement. Miraculously, I found them quickly! I like the white china pulls with the blue pattern. The bedroom has been going through a feminization lately, with white eyelet curtains and now the soft new dresser. 

Painted and dark waxed chest of drawers

 Project complete. Maybe not the most beautiful dresser in the world but I works for me. Not fabulous but sorta fabulous. 


My cost (not counting the oil paint and sandpaper that I had on hand):

2 Jars Behr's Sample Flat Wall Paint          $6.00
1 Minwax Neutral Paste Wax (1 lb.)             10.00

Name brand cost:

Quart of Name Brand Chalk Paint              $35.00
Dark Wax (4.22 oz)                                         15.00

Monday, February 6, 2017

Dreaming of Linen Sheets


Ever since I became obsessed with linen, loving its history as well as the look and feel of it, I have wanted linen sheets. However, such luxury bedding is beyond my budget. A single linen sheet can easily cost $200.00. And that's for a single sheet, not a set. So my lust was merely a dream. I was content with my handmade linen pillow cases. Craving possessions is not my thing so I did not wallow in materialistic desire. But, being an avid thrift store maven, the thought occasionally crossed my mind. You just never know...

To really find something fabulous in a thrift shop you have to be either lucky, or a frequent shopper. While pouring over  the contents of a gigantic store filled with used stuff may take too much time, it's not hard to learn how to skim. I rarely shop for a specific item. That only leads to disappointment. Instead, I quickly browse my favorite racks. Moving along a rack of, say, fabric, curtains, or bedding, I can easily spot the sort of thing I prefer. You certainly don't have to pause and look at every item. You can see from the edges if an item is made of a preferred fabric.

I spotted the large hunk of pale taupe linen right away. Of course one can make a mistake. So I grabbed the edge of the duvet cover and hunted out the tag in search of information. Not only was the cover 100% linen, but was manufactured by one of my favorite companies!

My bed is an old fashioned double. The duvet was for a king. Realizing how huge the thing would be, it would hang like a bedspread, it hit me. I decided to purchase the cover and cut it in half using each side as a flat sheet. Now you younger folks may not know but back in the old days, there were no fitted sheets! Beds were made with two flat sheets. The bottom sheet was tucked in under the mattress. I'd make my bed the old fashioned way. And if that didn't work, certainly youtube had a tutorial on how to make a fitted sheet. 

When you think of a deal, you have to look at the time you spend on improving it. For instance, if you buy a chair for $18.00, spend $100.00 on upholstery fabric, and take 20 hours to redo it, you may not really have a bargain. But if you buy something for $9.90 and spend and hour and a half cutting and hemming - now that's what I call a SCORE! 

The linen is stone washed so it's very soft. I often hang my laundered sheets outdoors, but I put these in the dryer with a couple of those dryer balls and the sheets come out wonderful. 

(When buying fabric at a thrift store, make sure to give it a good whirl in the dryer. The heat kills unwanted pests like bedbugs.)