During the winter months it can be hard to work on furniture projects that require chemicals and make big messes if you don’t have a heated workspace. I was determined to make a new sofa table and decided to build it right in the living room.
I’ve had my eye on this plan by Rogue Engineer and I adjusted the dimensions to fit our couch by making the table lower and narrower. Getting the wood cut at the hardware store and using the Kreg Jig (which makes pocket holes for easy and secure joints) made it come together quickly. I am a total beginner but thanks to the great plans available by talented people it is so easy.
After building the table this is what it looked like unfinished. I decided not to add the x braces in the original plan because I liked the simplicity of it like this.
Since it’s too cold to do a wood stain in the garage and I didn’t want to leave it unfinished until spring I did a steel wool and vinegar stain. It’s not an exact science and from my experience there is not a lot of control in the colour. Each board takes the treatment differently and I’ve even had some cedar turn black. To make the mixture just put steel wool and vinegar in a lidded container and wait a couple of days. Then brush it on the wood.
The photo above shows the contrast of the wood that has the vinegar and steel wool and the bottom part doesn’t.
I learned the hard way that if you miss spots and try to go back after and fill them in it doesn’t work too well.
These pine boards took the vinegar pretty well but the board used for the legs was different than the rest of the table so I did a dry brush whitewash with leftover house paint. I went pretty conservative with the white dry brush because I plan to do a proper treatment in the spring with some stain over it. If you’re hesitant to use wood stains or don’t have the proper space to work then the vinegar can work if you plan to do washes of paint over top.
Doing a dry brush treatment or doing a light wash of paint over top of the wood is the way to control the finished look and conceal flaws.
This is a detail of the finished product and it’s already being put to use as a prop for photographing my spring pillow collection.
As I find myself drawn to neutral home decor I have begun introducing cushions in that style. Here are a few that will be coming up on my new website at the end of the month. These have metallic branches in bronze, gold and nickel for some subtle shimmer too.
Of course colour also has a place in neutral decor and I’ll still be using colour in my new pieces.
This is my latest piece of furniture that I’ve refinished. After doing the last dining room table I think that I was so happy with the results that I chose to forget how much sanding and time had been involved. I think that for people who see the potential in secondhand objects it can be hard to pass up a project. When I saw this French Provincial style dining table with queen anne legs and a pretty scalloped top I had to restore it!
This is a more process oriented post than normal because I documented all of the steps it took to get to the finished product. Hopefully all of this trial and error will help someone about to start a refinishing project or in the midst of one.
This is what I learned along the way…
This is the before and while the shape was beautiful, the scratches, worn edges and finish needed some work. What I didn’t expect was that this top would be very hard to sand down evenly and the staining process gave me more trouble that it ever has before.After using a stripper (which did nothing) and sanding there were uneven patches.
I tried the darkest stain I had to try to balance out the uneven colour with a red cherry stain I already had.
Then I applied a light grey stain but this colour wasn’t the look I was going for.
I ended up having to buy another stain, a dark grey which is pictured above. I also used chalk paint in graphite as a base layer for the bottom.This is it after a couple coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in white. After all of the trouble with the stain not working how I wanted, the paint was so easy and enjoyable to do. I distressed the base with some sanding and then added a coat of light grey stain and sealed it with a matte varnish.Since this table was going up for sale after being completed I took some photos for fun. I keep saying that this is the last time I’ll refinish furniture that isn’t for our house but I think that if I come across the right piece I’ll do it again.
Have you ever been to Chicago during the holiday season? The first time that I ever noticed urns full of evergreen boughs and pretty branches was when I went to Chicago. For three years I went to that gorgeous city around this time for the One of a Kind Show and a highlight was always seeing the elegant displays on every corner.
Ever since then I’ve been working to improve my skills to make my own wreaths, garlands and urns. I’m still figuring it out but I have learned some techniques along the way for beginners.
By purchasing the boughs from the grocery store (or collecting them in the forest after a windstorm) and having a couple of basic supplies to reuse every year makes it less expensive to do it yourself.
These are very basic instructions for how I made my wreath.
Wreath Form (I like the 18″ metal ones from Michaels it’s about $5 if you use the coupon)
Garden Shears or Scissors
Greenery – Cedar & Pine is $5 a bunch at the grocery store and boxwood or oregonia is $10. I used one bunch but for a fuller wreath you’d need more.
Time to complete 15 – 20 minutes.
Cut of pieces of the boxwood to shorter lengths and bundle about three together with wire, leaving some extra length of wire. Attach the bunch to the wire frame using the extra wire at the end. After you layer all of the bunches together around the frame loop the spool of wire around to secure everything. The key is using a wreath form to work with to get the nice round shape. I have tried in the past without a form and they were not as successful and they were more frustrating to make.
Last year my wreath lasted more than 4 months and when it was all dried up I pulled out the old leaves and saved the wire to use again this year. Of course if you like ribbons and embellishments you could add them afterwards but I prefer to keep it simple.
This is the story of two bedside tables turned living room side tables that have been painted and refinished 3 times in the past 3 years but now they are done. In our last home I painted them to blend in with the wall colours (light grey and dark blue) but this time I did them both the same. I never liked the look of the fake shadows sprayed on the wood veneer top but I had been apprehensive about refinishing it and ruining the top. This is how they looked when I first bought them from a secondhand store where they were originally part of a bedroom set. I thought that the shape was interesting and they had an interior shelf and lots of storage space to help keep the living room tidy.
Finally this summer I just went for it and used a stripper to remove the shiny varnish and stain. It took a lot of scraping and some sanding while being careful not to take off too much material.Then I applied my favourite stain that is a light grey so that the tables are lighter like the rest of the wood tones in our house and sealed it with a matte varnish.
Doing this quick refinishing project was actually what gave me the experience and some confidence to tackle the large kitchen table that was on Apartment Therapy. If you’re thinking about stripping and refinishing wood for the first time start with something small to get started, it’s not as hard as it may seem.
Lately I’ve been back in the mode of repurposing garments into new cushion covers or new sweaters. These are a couple of my finished pieces but there is a pile of ripped apart clothes that I’ve started but haven’t gotten to yet. Usually I start cutting and don’t get a before shot of the sweater but these are the remnants left.
The good thing about making toddler clothing is that an adult sweater gives plenty of material to make something new with. (In my rush to make this sweater quickly one night I didn’t have enough buttons so that’s why it looks different in the photo below).
These were the cable knit sweater pillows that I posted last year:
There’s good material out there in your closet or secondhand that can be made into something new plus there’s not a lot to lose.
With the cooler weather I’ve been adding more textiles around the house and just finished off some cushions with hand dyed mohair velvet. These are some samples of wools and velvets I’ve dyed in different depths of shades to coordinate with each other with subtle variations.
While I was at my sewing machine I noticed that the pink was similar to the colours of the abstract toddler art framed above. Don’t you love how children create such beautiful artwork so effortlessly? I’m thinking about commissioning a larger piece again soon ;)
Over the past couple of years my interests have shifted towards interior design and decorating. I’ve been working on a lot of projects that are home related and now I’m getting back to fibre and rediscovering what I truly love most — dyeing wool. For me inspiration comes from working with the material. While I’m a big fan of neutral interiors, I love the power that textiles can have to change the feel of a space.
This is some wool yardage that I’ve just pulled out of the dye pot and now my mind is racing with ideas about how this will become a new part of Shibang Designs.
Lately all of my posts have been focused on furniture and painting so getting back to working with textiles feels good. This pillow is made with white wool fabric with my hand dyed wool applique on top.
While I love neutral decor just adding a bit of colour can change the feel of the room and that’s where textiles are perfect for accessorizing.