February 9, 2012

Tutorial: How to turn your honeyed pine furniture into french willow grey


I've recently turned my attention to giving some honeyed pine stained furniture a lighter, fresher more updated look. I've called it 'french willow grey' because it reminds me of that lovely beige/grey colour of basket ware, but it's also the colour of driftwood, old rustic barn wood, and lovely old weathered fences...I'm sure you know what I mean :)
 I have done this look on quite a few pieces lately and I have to say, I love it!
First up, a huge, chunky honey-coloured pine coffee table that we bought to keep.  You might notice a peep of another table I have already finished.  I was going for the same look with this bigger one.

Next up is this even-more-yellow-than-honey-coloured pine pair of bedside cabinets.  For some bizarre reason, one the them is a tiny bit taller than the other.  I shouldn't think it would matter once they are on either side of a bed.

The technique I used for the coffee tables and the pine cabinets was pretty much the same.  I stripped back the polyurethane/varnish on the tops of the pieces.  For the largest coffee table I used my heat gun and it came off beautifully.  I wasn't so lucky with the other pieces however, and had to use paint stripper, which is far messier and time consuming.  

Once the tops were stripped I sanded them back to a nice even colour (sometimes the stripper stains a bit and sometimes the heat gun leaves burn marks). TIP: if there are any deep scratches you want to remove, lay a wet hot cloth over them for a minute or two this helps swell the wood and lifts out the scratch...saves lots of sanding!

Then I washed the pieces all over using sugar soap and water, then rinsed them and left them to dry.  Once dry I got to work painting them.  When I do the tops different, I like to leave them to last, because there is a bit more playing round with them to get just to effect I am after.  So I flipped my tables upside down, and primed, painted and distressed the legs.  I used a Dulux colour called Limed White, which is, despite how many white and neutrals paint chips I pick up, the one I keep gravitating to for the wall colour for our new home (one week to go, yippee!), so I wanted to try it out.  Have to say, I love it, in full strength, half strength and one quarter strength.  It is a really pretty neutral, just the perfect shade really! 

Sorry I haven't got any progress photos, but once the legs were done on the tables, and the 'bodies' of the bedside cabinets were all painted, I distressed them, then washed them down again to get rid of the dust, before sealing them with Cabothane water based poly (because I had used a low-sheen paint on them.  I float between waxing pieces and using poly on them, just a matter of preference for how to finish each piece, really.  Poly'ing them uses less physical energy than waxing, and since it is so hot here, I am all for sweating less at the moment! :)

Time for some photos before I explain how I did the tops...
The white you can see peeping through on the coffee table leg is the primer.  I like the white to peep through like that on most of my pieces.
I always paint the insides of cupboards... it is a bit of extra work but I want my pieces to look and feel fresh!
Ok, so how I get the tops to look like this:
I choose 3 or 4 colours in off-white/neutral/grey/beige/brown shades.  Test pots are perfect for this.  The colours I used here are all from Resene: Bison Hide, Triple Tea and Half Pravda.  The shot above shows the coffee table.  For the bedsides I also used some Barely There (a greyed white).

I start with the darkest colour and water it down quite a lot (the consistency would be more coloured water than runny paint).  I slap it on with a wide-ish brush, keeping my strokes straight and with the grain.  Because it is so runny, it pools a bit, that doesn't matter because it all adds to the effect once it dries.  Because I stripped the table top back to bare timber, I don't need (or want) to use primer, the paint will adhere perfectly well.  Once each coat is dry, I repeat again with the next lightest colour.  After I have done all the colours I want, I go back over with a couple of the colours, in random areas, not necessarily all over (more like dry brushing, but still with very watery paint).  Once all dry, and I am happy with how it looks, I very lightly sand over the whole top, which exposes the different (subtle) layers of colour, and a little of the wood grain.  Then a wipe down and finally 2 or 3 coats of poly, and you are done :)

This is the lounge room of our rental home, looking very bare in preparation for our move into our own home next week...bring it on!


6 comments:

  1. The table looks amazing!! I'd love to have a go at doing this with my bedroom dresser! xo K

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  2. aaaah, i think i actually heard the coffee table thank you!

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  3. All the best for the move.

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  4. Wow,Tables and cupboards are look so different and creative.I really like to watch cupboards after paint.

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  5. They came out perfectly Karen! Thanks for sharing :) xx

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  6. I want my pine cabinet in my kitchen to have a slightly beige tint but like yours. Do I just change the paint colors. I know that grey is neutral, but I want more of a slight beige as my kitchen is a sage green with brown accents.

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