February 22, 2013

Client Commission: Dining Suite for Ian

Today I've got a very different project to show you - well it feels different to me, anyway.  A lovely man named Ian approached me at my market stall a couple of months ago, and asked if I would paint a dining suite for him.
It had 4 chairs but for some reason only one made it into the before photo.  You get the idea, I'm sure.
When I went to his home to quote a price for the work, he showed me where he wanted to put it - on an outside covered patio area.  He wanted it to match the colours of his home which was a terracotta coloured brick with cream mortar, and cream patio railings and fences.

The cream colour was easy - we used Colourbond Classic Cream which was the exact cream colour of his fences and railings etc.  I left him to choose the terracotta colour, and he decided upon Dulux Great Dane.
I got to work sanding the whole suite back, cleaned it thoroughly, then spray primed it.  I haven't used my spray gun in quite a while and it was great getting it out again. Spraying is obviously quicker than hand painting, and gives a smoother result which is what I needed for this project as the client wanted a clean looking non-distressed finish.  
*That is not to say you can't get a smooth finish with a brush, you absolutely can.  All you need to do is use a good quality paint brush, have a steady hand, and sand with a fine grit sponge (then wipe with a clean wet cloth) between coats.*
Spraying does have its downsides though.  You need an area to do your spraying in (I've made a spray booth in my garage) and it needs to be sealed, clean and dust free.  Spray painting creates a lot of 'dust' as the paint particles fly all around and don't just end up on the furniture.  As a result, you use around 30% more paint when spraying vs hand painting. Keeping your pressure at the right level (high enough to get the paint out nicely and low enough not to blast the paint everywhere) is important and takes a bit of trial and error. As does thinning your paint to the right viscosity - too thick and it won't come out of the gun nicely, and too thin and it will run.
I lined up a couple of little tray tables to prime while I had my gun out.  It is time-consuming and fiddly to clean properly so I like to make the most of it while it has paint in it!
This is my spray gun.  It is about the third gun I have owned and the first one I have learnt to look after and keep properly clean!
I've said this many times before, but I always work on tables upside down first, so I don't have to put a newly-painted surface down and risk damaging it.  It also makes it easier to get in and around the table legs and underside of the table, which I always paint to freshen it up (the undersides of tables are often filthy, especially around the edges).
Here is the part where I got busy and stopped taking photos, sorry!  The table top and seats were to be terracotta and the legs and chair backs cream, so I masked up the chair seats and got to work spraying the chairs with the cream colour.  I also spray the chairs upside down to start with, it is easier to get into all the nooks and crannies that way.  I didn't need to mask the table top, I just sprayed the cream colour while it was upside down, then flipped it over and hand painted the table top in terracotta.
Once I had finished the cream on the chairs, I removed the masking (I used cling film and masking tape)  and hand painted the seats in terracotta, then sealed them (and the tabletop) with water based poly.  The paint and sealer I used is specially formulated for use outdoors - although this suite will be undercover I wanted to make sure it will stand up to the elements.

So here it is, all done
Whilst these colours are not my favourites, I think it looks lovely and will look perfect in Ian's outdoor living area.  It was fun for me to go outside of my usual colour palette and do something different.  It was also fun to do a cleaner style, as I do tend to distress everything I lay my hands on!  

I am thankful to Ian for the opportunity to transform his dining suite, which has allowed me to show off a different side of my painting skills.  Here's hoping he likes the result!

February 10, 2013

Rainbow Pastels Dining Suite

I don't know how but I seem to have missed doing a post on this dining suite as soon as I had completed it...oops!

I picked up this gorgeous pine farmhouse table along with some rattan bentwood chairs which were awful and didn't suit the table.  I got rid of those, knowing that I would find some better chairs without too much trouble.
The table was in great condition, it just needed that golden honey colour removed, and oh how I love to do that!
I started by stripping the tabletop with paint stripper.
I sanded the legs and apron.
Sorry about the shadows, but you can see the table looks better already all stripped back!

I primed and painted the legs and apron in my favourite off white, then lightly distressed before sealing with wax.
Here is the table with just primer on it.  The top is still in its natural state.
I lightly distressed the legs by hand, then waxed them.  For the tabletop I followed this procedure that I have used several times for achieving that perfect shade of french willow grey that is so popular amongst shabby chic and French country fans. 

I didn't take any before or during photos of the chairs, but they were just ordinary brown colonial style kitchen chairs, in good solid condition.  I sanded these back then primed and painted them each in a different pastel shade, something I had been wanting to do for a while...I got the chance to do some here for a client and I wanted to do it again, with a couple of extra colours thrown in.
I distressed each chair by hand (a huge job!) and then sealed them with two coats water based poly. They have an absolutely gorgeous smooth feel and look which is hard to capture in photos.

Here is the suite all done...
I am thrilled with how the dining suite has turned out, it just has such a happy feel to it.
This suite is for sale, please contact me if you are interested in viewing.

February 6, 2013

Retro Kitchen Step Stool Makeover

First of all, Happy Waitangi Day to my fellow Kiwis!  Nothing quite like being away from your home country on its National Day, or being in another country for theirs.  Feels a bit odd!

I absolutely love these stools - when I was little, it seemed that every home had one of them.  
They are so handy - great for using to reach the top cupboards but also great for little kids to kneel at the kitchen bench to help with baking, or sit at the dining table comfortably - especially with the lid flipped open, giving them a backrest.
These two stools are mine, and I am keeping them forever :) I am always on the lookout for more though, because I know how popular they have become over the past few years - indeed they have become very hard to come by, particularly ones in good condition.  

These two I brought over from New Zealand, and since being in Australia I've never seen any of this style.  Maybe they didn't make them here? I have seen plenty of the ones with flip out steps though, but most of them are rusted beyond help, sadly.  You can imagine how thrilled I was a couple of weeks back, to find this then...
It was in good solid condition with a  bit of surface rust that I managed to remove most of using elbow grease and steel wool.  The black step covers are unfortunately a little bit chipped but it doesn't affect the use of them at all.
I shared this on my facebook page the other day, but I am still gobsmacked by it...this was the cardboard label covering the underside of the seat:
See down there, right at the bottom?
It says 'European Labor (sic) Only'.  So I take from this that when it was made, the factory felt it had to let buyers of this product know who/what race of person had made it? Wow. Still gobsmacked! Is this how you read that? What other way could it be read?  
Perhaps I should add a new label 'upcycled by a girl' ;)

Anyway moving right along, the orange vinyl seat cover didn't do much for me, and you know I cannot help myself when it comes to oilcloth, particularly dots and florals ;)  Back in New Zealand I would have taken this along to my magic upholsterer man to whip me up a new seat cover, but since I haven't yet managed to convince him to up and move to Port Macquarie, I decided to give it a go myself.  (Hi, Val!)

I was on such a mission I didn't take photos but these are the steps I took:

1.  I unscrewed the top from the stool frame (just 4 screws) then removed all of the old staples in the upholstery (never a nice job).  

2.  I removed the vinyl cover and turned it inside out, using it as a pattern for my new cover.  I just traced around the top part of the old cover and for the sides I measured a strip of my new fabric. 
Cut my fabric out.

3.  I made some piping out of a blue gingham checked oilcloth for a bit of contrast, then sewed the piping to the top part, clipping the the piping as I went, to ease it around the curved corners.  

4.  I sewed the side piece to the top and piping, (starting at the centre back so that is where my join would end up) then stitched the centre back seam.  

5.  I clipped through all the corner seams then turned it back in the right way.

6. The stool base and foam was still in excellent condition so I reused it.  I eased my new oilcloth stool cover over the foam and wood base, then stapled it around the edges.  I then stapled another piece of oilcloth to the underside to keep it looking neat.

7. I purchased new foot stoppers for the 6 feet this stool has, and also replaced the plastic caps on the step part, as they were quite brittle.

8. I reattached the top to the frame, and here it is now...

I don't think I did too bad a job for a first time attempt :) (I have covered plenty of stools before, but steered clear of the oilcloth ones requiring sewing and piping).

With the steps folded up.
This stool is for sale, please email me for details if you are interested :)

February 4, 2013

A fresh new look for an old desk

This is a custom job that came to me via the article in the Port Macquarie Focus Magazine...the lady had read the article then made a special trip to the markets to talk to me about this little desk...
She had owned it for about 50 years and had completed the current paintjob herself about 40 years ago.  She saw some other white pieces I had done and decided that this desk needed a new look.
The green finish was chipped and worn so I decided it needed to come off completely.  I did this by using paint stripper and sanding.  When I was uploading the photos for this post I found this one I didn't even realise my daughter had snapped...there I am hard at work!  All that stuff on the ground is the old paint...I keep telling you that this is a glamorous job, do I not? ;)
Once all the paint was gone I cleaned the desk with methylated spirits on a clean rag to get rid of any paint stripper residue, then primed it with my favourite Zinsser BIN but found that I got some tannin bleed through in a couple of spots so I did another primer coat of Zinsser Cover Stain which fixed it.

Then onto the top coat (well 4!) of my favourite off white.  A light distressing by hand with 240 grit sandpaper followed, then I sealed the inside with water based poly and the outside with wax.

Here it is now...

Once again, white paint fixes everything!  

If you have something you'd like painted and don't want to do it yourself, I can do it for you...email me with photos and I will work what it will cost :)
(Location Port Macquarie and surrounds, NSW Australia)

February 3, 2013

Home Made Chalk Paint - My Review

I am so late to this party, that is for sure ;)

I finally, finally (!) got around to trying chalk paint, well home made, at least.  Annie Sloan's version is very very close to being here in Australia and New Zealand, and I am looking forward to trying it after all the hype I have seen (read) over the past two or so years.

I picked up this desk last week and decided this was my guinea pig for chalk paint...
(phone photos...sorry!)

There are lots of recipes on the internet for home made chalk paint, they mostly consist of mixing plaster of paris and water into acrylic paint (some use calcium carbonate and some use grout).  I went with plaster of paris and mixed it into a paste with water then mixed that into some low sheen water based acrylic (good old classic Dulux Antique White USA).

It mixed to a nice consistency fairly easily and I started painting the desk straight away (after cleaning it thoroughly but not sanding it...this paint is meant to stick to 'glossy' surfaces).  After about 10 minutes it started thickening, at first not too thick for me still to paint with, but a few minutes later you could stand the brush up in it, and it needed watering down again.

I had read that this paint dries very quickly once painted on the furniture but to be honest it didn't dry as quickly as I thought it would, but we have had some pretty wet humid weather here lately (I painted on a fine sunny day though).  I ended up doing 3 coats in total over two days.  In between coats I put the lid on the container with the chalk paint mix in it and it kept it fresh, just needing a bit of a stir and some more water and paint on the second day.

After it was fully dry I distressed the desk by hand (using 240 grit sandpaper) and true to what I had read, it did distress very easily...almost too easily for my liking!
I personally don't like an unpredictable chippy distress job which I think is what this chalk paint is meant to do...see in the corner there...that is what it did and I don't particularly like it. I was worried it was going to come off in big chunks if I kept sanding.  Some people like that look so I wouldn't necessarily say this is a flaw...it just doesn't suit me and my preferred style.
I don't love the handles either but as this was a real trial piece, I decided to leave them as is.

I finished it off by sealing with wax.  It has come up quite nicely and certainly an improvement!

My verdict on home made chalk paint:

I am not convinced at all.  I don't like the way it chipped off in some areas like it wasn't going to stop. Maybe I watered it down too much after the first application but I put it on pretty quickly...if you need to remix with water and more plaster of paris/paint every 10 minutes or so it isn't very user-friendly.  If I am going to go to the effort of finding and paying for a nicely shaped piece of furniture to give new life to, I want to make sure that it has plenty of years of new life ahead of it.
I don't have faith that home made chalk paint will definitely give me that, so I am going to stick to the tried and trusted quality procedures and products I usually use (and wait for Annie Sloan's to land here!)