March 16, 2011

Before & After - Black Distressed Duchess

This project was a custom order from a family that have already purchased several finished pieces from me.  The last piece they purchased was this for their daughter.  Their other daughter was also keen on having a similar duchess, but she wanted it to be black, to match a chair she already had.  I was super keen to give that a go, having never painted anything black before!

I had this duchess in stock, which the clients decided would suit them perfectly.

(Sorry about the photo quality, it is the online auction photo and the only 'before'shot that I have.

I got to work removing the hardware, sanding it, filling some holes, then cleaning it before spray priming it with Zinsser BIN.  I thought about the fact that BIN is white and I was painting this duchess black but I didn't bother tinting the BIN because I thought that a little bit of white peeping through once it was distressed would work to my advantage, and give me the look I was after.

I would like to say that this was a straightforward project, but it wasn't.  I assumed it would be quick and easy, as I planned on using my sprayer for the whole project, but quickly found out that black is a very unforgiving colour to work with.  It was a hot day (hot for NZ at least!) when I first sprayed the black on, about 35 degrees.  After giving it a couple of coats, I left it in my backyard while I worked on some other things.  Later that evening I went to put it in my workshop for the night only to find the top and one of the sides had blistered in the heat!  Argh!!!!

Black paint.  35 degrees celcius.  Direct sunlight.

What was I thinking!?

So then when I had calmed down, I sanded it all back, re-primed and repainted it.  

So far, so good, but then we had another earthquake on February 22nd and even though I was lucky enough to not be directly affected, I still couldn't put my mind to painting.  So it sat in my workshop, safe and well, till we had another really hot day, and the late afternoon sun shone in the open door guessed it...once again blistered one end of the duchess :(

So while I wasn't happy, worse had happened and was still happening in my home town due to the eartqhuake, so I just sucked it up and sanded it back, again, and primed and painted it, again.

I ended up doing the last couple of coats with a brush, as while I love my sprayer, I just wasn't getting the finish I was after....the sprayed finish made it look to 'factory' and new for my liking (hope the client agrees!)

Once I had finished the painting, I distressed it using a sanding sponge and 180 and 220 grit sandpaper.  I also learnt that black isn't very forgiving when you touch sandpaper onto it.  It doesn't stay black and every scratch you make with the sandpaper sticks out like a sore thumb.
So to finish I brushed on two coats of water based poly, which gave it a lovely finish and made the sandpaper scratches disappear, and best of all, took the colour back to black.

Here it is...

It is a hard job taking a nice photo when there is a mirror involved (especially when photography is not my strong point!)...that is my front door step :)

The white peeping through for the BIN is very subtle, but I think it looks great.

As stressful as it is at the time, I do enjoy these projects that challenge me...I always learn things that will help me with future projects, and gain more experience along the way!
Furniture Feature Fridays
I have more finished projects to share...will be back soon :)

xx Karen


  1. That is a beautiful dresser! I love it!

  2. Good on you Karen. I am so loving the dresser in black. It is so elegant. I want it.
    Pam x

  3. The white looks great peeking through. Nicely done!

  4. It's SO gorgeous Karen! This dresser looks like it's just come out of Laura Ashley. Excellent job! x

  5. So beautiful! I love the black, classical elegance!

  6. It's really fabulous, but am I right in suspecting that you won't be rushing to do another black makeover??? ;)

  7. well you saved it nicely! i had that happen to me with a peice that had been finished for a couple months- i brought it to a market and it was in the sun, and it blistered. i was devastated! i had to bring it home and fix it. well, it really looks stunning and sexy now!

  8. Good gracious, that was a PROJECT!!! I didn't even know that blistering like that could happen! turned out soooo pretty, and I'm sure your clients would agree! Hope things are going well down there!
    Hugs :)

  9. It's come up beautiful. The finish is perfect.

    Lisa x

  10. What a beautiful piece of furniture! That is one lucky girl that ends up with that :)

  11. All of your hard work paid off. It looks lovely, Karen! I have not painted anything in black yet. I will remember some of your tips! I am sure your client with will very happy with the duchess.

  12. Looks fab Karen! I've just been working on a cabinet in black and so when I saw this unit - I knew I was on the right track! Thanks x


  14. That turned out really beautiful good job.

  15. That is a stunning piece of furniture. You did a fabulous job!! I'd love it if you linked up to my blog party "from trash to treasure" this would be a great addition.