Children’s Craft Table and Chairs: Part 1

I’m almost half way through my latest project: converting a table and chairs into a craft table using lots of colourful paint, so I thought it was a good time to share how I’ve been getting on.

Thank you to everyone who’s been reading along and a reminder to all who want to keep up to date that you can sign up for email alerts at the bottom of this page.

My 2 children have been sitting at this IKEA table for years and use it to eat at/play games on/generally make a mess. It’s been the scene of many arguments over who gets the green plate, who poked who etc. and looks very well used. I still like the table as it’s a good height for them and all the chairs tuck right under the table to save space. However, it’s also a very dull dark brown colour and generally covered in food stains and crumbs which I’ve given up trying to clean off…

 

  

Eventually we will get a new big family dining table so I thought this would be great in the new playroom (once done) as a craft table. It was probably very foolish of me to start the project too soon as they will still be eating at the table for a few months, but I had lots of ideas and was desperate to try them out. I justified it to myself by saying that it would be a good test of how well the table and chairs stand up to a LOT of wear and tear and decided to go for it.

After spending a fair bit of time in Homebase deciding on colours (in between telling off the children/trying to keep track of the children/taking the children to the toilet/wishing I was patient enough to wait until the children weren’t around), I got started on the first chair. The first job was to clean it and I made the children help to teach them valuable life lessons (they in fact thought it was the best game ever.) Then I lightly sanded it down and painted the whole thing, apart from the legs, using 2 coats of Dulux multi surfaces primer and undercoat.


Note the drop cloth, a shower curtain I bought from Poundland after seeing a tip on Pinterest. It’s much stronger than cheap drop cloths sold in shops and doesn’t bunch up like an old sheet so works perfectly.

When my husband came home he told me straight away I should have taken the chair apart first. This seemed like hard work and it was also a bit too late so I decided to ignore him (what does he know?!), did some taping up and painted everything but the seat pad in Rust-oleum satin finish furniture paint in ‘Teal’ (2 coats). I used a mini roller for this and it went on really smoothly. However,  it was at this stage that I started to regret not taking the chair apart. Yes, my husband was right and I did allow him a tiny bit of smugness (this is an extremely rare occurrence for him after all).

I left an area at the back which I taped up and painted with blackboard paint so the children can draw on it or write their names.

  
Then it was time for the real fun. Neon pink paint! (again from Rust-oleum). This generally went on well, although I learnt some lessons about tape which I’ll share later.  Here is the finished result…

  

Ta-da!!! Feeling the fear about how long it would look this lovely for, I also applied a coat of Valspar clear sealer multi-surface which I spray spray painted outside (fun!) Then I applied one coat of Rust-oleum wax.

My daughter absolutely loves the chair and has been allowed to sit on it (gently.) It’s not at the table yet but I still have 2 untouched chairs there for the children to use so am prolonging this for as long as possible.

Soon after, I got started on the second chair. The only difference here is that I used Rust-oleum chalky finish furniture paint in ‘ink blue’. As this is a chalk paint I didn’t use primer on the seat cover as I’ve read that chalk paint adheres very well to all different types of fabric (in this case faux-leather). I wanted to see this for myself as I have my eye on painting our big faux-leather sofa, again for the playroom. I haven’t persuaded the husband quite yet so for those who know me any help on this would be appreciated! I also took a few minutes to take the chair apart this time, which made all the difference to how easy it was to clean and paint. Here are the finished results…

 

  
And here are the lessons I learnt about taping:

  1. Use ‘frogtape’, which is amazing as you don’t get any leaks around the edges like you do with normal masking tape.
  2. Take the tape off AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I’d stopped using the frog tape thinking that it was too strong, as when I peeled it off paint kept coming with it. However, this also happened even with very weak masking tape (hence quite a lot of retouching needed for the first chair.) I finally caught on that if removed fairly quickly no paint comes off and you get a really clean line. Result!

And so the project is half done with not too many DIWHY?? disasters. Except…I did find a can of paint had  leaked all over the plastic box it was in  and its contents, which meant a very quick clean up of a lot of paint and going to work with ‘teal’ hands. I also can’t seem to stop picking up a paintbrush without changing first (can’t fight the laziness) so I bought this creation from Poundland…

 

I feel a bit like Dexter in it but otherwise it seems to do the job.

Here’s what I used for the project…

 

Guess which one leaked?!

Watch this space for the finished result and let me know what you think about the sofa painting!

TV Cabinet/sideboard stencil and border

As you may remember, I wanted to improve on my TV cabinet repaint by doing a little something extra to make it stand out. This inevitably led to DI-WHY?? (stencil-style) but after some rework and a bit of practise I am really pleased with the results. This…

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Now looks like this…

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Much improved I think!

When I finally got the stencilling right the doors looked like this…

I was fairly pleased but still felt like something was missing and decided to try to do a border around the doors to frame the stencil pattern. Knowing I don’t have the steadiest of hands I did some research and ordered a ‘paint pen’ in grey (never knew these existed before). I edged one cupboard door, did a bit of comparison…

And decided I liked it so got to work.

Initially I thought this would be a fairly quick job, but the more ‘edges’ I lined with the paint pen the more edges I saw that looked like they needed edging and then the top looked bare, then the sides, etc. etc. so I just kept going.  I even turned down a glass of wine to keep my hands as steady as possible (people who know me are probably now in shock.) At first my lines were a bit wobbly but the more I did the quicker and steadier I got. Also, the best thing about the pen is that it takes a while to dry and can be wiped away with a bit of kitchen roll and water very easily when a mistake is made (lots of slips and wobbles were made by me, despite the lack of wine!) The only thing I’m not sure on is how well it will stand up to daily wear and tear.

Here’s the obligatory ‘before and after’…

  And another close up of the cupboard doors.

I’m pleased with the final result and can see it looking even better with the right walls, carpet and accessories. I’d love to know what you think? I would also definitely stencil again, and will probably be buying lots more paint pens in different colours.

I’m currently working on a new project: repainting some chairs and a table in bright colours (hooray!) to eventually be used as a craft table for the kids. Watch this space! Here’s what I used for this project…

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DI-WHY?? (stencil-style)

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trawling Pinterest for inspiration on how to make my TV cabinet repaint a bit more interesting. I came across some lovely pictures of painted units on my hunt and narrowed it down to 2 options:

1. Use wallpaper or contact paper to cover the panel in the doors or the back of the shelf section.

I really liked this idea and it seemed easy but I was a bit worried the paper might start peeling off and look awful fairly quickly.

2. Stencil!

This involved painting and I had a little pot of Rust-oleum chalk paint in ‘flint’ that was begging to be used so I decided to go with this option.

How hard could it be? In fact, I remembered helping my mum to stencil a border around the kitchen when I was a teenager (all the rage back then) so surely I already knew what to do? One fact I forgot was that my longterm memory isn’t so great.

I found a stencil online from ‘idealstencils.co.uk’ and even bought some Rust-oleum ‘quick drying low tack adhesive’ so that I could do a really professional job. Nothing could go wrong! This TV cabinet was about to be transformed…

Due to impatience (previously mentioned) I looked at lots of pretty pictures of amazing furniture but didn’t really read in detail how to actually DO stencilling. It seemed pretty straightforward. Big mistake!

Error 1 was to happily paint the adhesive directly onto the cupboard door and stick the stencil on it (thinking I was following the instructions on the back of the tin correctly). Almost straightaway I started having doubts. The areas to be stencilled felt pretty sticky (not paint-friendly) but  I optimistically assumed the adhesive would magically disappear when needed or have no effect on the paint so I carried on. Error 2: I chose a mini roller for the job, partly because it was new and cute and I wanted to try it out. Then the nightmare began. Each time I rolled the paint up and down it slipped on the adhesive and disappear in patches. I tried a brush but that was even worse so went back to the roller and just kept on waiting a bit, trying again, waiting a bit etc. until I had a vaguely even covering of paint. Surely it would all turn out ok? (sometimes I take a while to catch on). Due to all the coats of paint I didn’t dare take the stencil off straight away so left it overnight to dry.

In the morning I proudly lifted off the stencil to find – Tada!! This awful mess…

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Left with no other choice I used a sander (and sharp finger nail) to scrape it all off, touched up the peeled off white paint, painted another coat of white paint and was ready to try again (all this with 2 children running around.) This time I did a little research, painted the adhesive onto the stencil (correct!), left it to dry for a bit (correct!) and selected a round brush with a dab technique (correct!) A few minutes later this was revealed…

Still a lot of marks from bleeding paint!! Aggghhhh!! And then I had to deal with more bleeding from 3-year-old’s teeny tiny papercut that went everywhere (will it teach her not to snatch things from her brother? Unlikely.)

Despite having the right technique, I needed a fair bit of practise to get used to using the right amount of paint on the brush. Fortunately, I have finally had some good results so hope to post the finished result soon. I’m also waiting for the arrival of a ‘paint pen’ which I’m hoping to use to do some border work on the unit (fingers crossed for no more DI-Why?!? issues).

The take away message is that stencilling is not easy, or at least not for impatient not-very-artistic beginners like me!

Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover

The chest of drawers is finally finished – hooray! And I have to say I’m very pleased. I’ve learnt a few things from this project and had a few minor disasters along the way (of course) but this is how I did it…

The chest of drawers is made of pine, which scratches so easily that I will be tiptoeing around it very carefully now it’s finished. Because of this it had quite a lot of big scratches on it already, especially on the top, so I decided it was the perfect time to get out my husband’s electric sander. After lots of fun feeling like a DIY pro with my mask and power tools the chest looked like this…

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It was at this point that I realised I should maybe have used wood filler on the biggest cracks as I intended to varnish the top and didn’t want a patchy look. I ended up having to do quite a lot more sanding to even it out a bit more (creating a LOT of dust!)

After sanding the top I roughly sanded down the rest of the chest and filled in some cracks and dents with wood filler (see orange patches in the picture above). This project ends up involving quite a lot of sanding as you will see! Then I got started on varnishing the top with Ronseal interior varnish in ‘Satin Medium Oak.’

I ended up doing 3 coats of varnish after mistakenly painting against the grain for the first coat (faint stripes still visible in the wrong direction). In the end it wasn’t perfect but still looked pretty good so it was time to start painting.

My struggles with chalk paint are outlined in my last post How to paint without leaving brush strokes and bobbles. I have since learnt that it also helps to add a bit of water to chalk paint to make it go on more smoothly. Anyway, for a smoother finish I ended up doing a light sand in between coats (of Rust-oleum chalk paint in ‘Winter Grey’) with one of these amazing things…

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Two coats was enough for most of it and the chest now looked like this (minus the drawers)…

Check out the fitted wardrobes in the background – definitely a future project.

Now it was time to put the new handles on. I wanted shaker-style drawer pulls and chose some from Screwfix in ‘antique brass’ because they looked nice, weren’t too expensive and were fixed with screws through the front (I thought I might have a DI-Why?? moment if I tried to drill through the back of the drawers). Because the wood was so soft and I didn’t want to scratch the new handles I did some careful measuring and used a manual screwdriver. I then forced myself to get on and cover the whole chest with one coat of Rust-oleum furniture finishing wax for protection. Here is the finished result…

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I love it! And here’s another photo now it’s back in place in the spare room…


And a close up of the varnished top…

Unfortunately all pictures are slightly ruined by the hideous decor that is still in every room of the house (but hopefully for only a few months longer.) Here’s what I used for the project…

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I’m still deciding on my next project but if the weather improves I might move outside and try out spray paint for the first time (very excited about this!) Watch this space…

 

How to paint without leaving brush strokes and bobbles.

I’ve been busy working on my latest project, in between work going crazy and having 2 children to take care of. This means a few minutes here and there, often late at night in the worst-lit room in the world. And I’ve been having some problems and frustrations.

The paint I’ve chosen for the chest of drawers is a proper chalk paint, as opposed to the satin finish of the last one. The first coat goes on fine but painting on the second coat starts to feel like wading through mud. And because it’s so thick and dries so fast, as soon as I slightly brush back and go over a bit I’ve already done it starts bobbling up and looking awful…

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AAAGGGHH! Maybe it’s the brand I’ve chosen or I’m too fussy but I thought chalk paint was supposed to be really easy to use.

Anyway, my previous technique to combat this was as follows:

  1. Slap on the paint thickly as this seems to help.
  2. Paint as quickly as possible (cue sore arms and looking like a crazy paint lady).
  3. Try to work in one direction and never go back or ever ever stop in the middle.

This is STRESSFUL! And because I’m a bit of a perfectionist I always spot something that’s just not quite right and break rule number 3. Plus on big sections rule number 3 is impossible to follow.

I had the same issue when painting the marble on my fireplace but managed to get away with an uneven look as it makes it sort of look like stone. This was not working with the chest of drawers. Until I discovered something that worked better. Maybe this will change the world…(!?)

  1. Slap on the paint with a massive brush and roughly paint the required area without worrying about bobbles, brush strokes etc. (fun!)
  2. Grab a basic small foam roller and roll it over the area, magically smoothing out every small imperfection.
  3. That’s it!!

Now I know you are probably asking, ‘why not just put the paint on with a roller in the first place?’ This is because if you put the paint on the actual roller it slips all over the place and you end up with even more problems. Also it’s really hard to do this for small or narrow areas like in the photo above. There is a texture to the finish but it’s very even and I quite like it…

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Hopefully the chest of drawers will be finished soon (despite the fact that it’s made of ridiculously soft wood and I keep scratching it). I’ve invested in a miner’s-style head light which helps with the bad lighting but not with the crazy paint lady look. Watch this space!

 

 

DI-WHY??

While I get on with the chest of drawers project I thought I’d own up to a couple of disasters that occurred while painting the piano stool. I’m quite prone to these small disasters and like to call them…

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In fact, if I’m being honest I first directed the term towards my husband when he tried to put a TV up on the wall. As you may have guessed it fell off. And broke. And we’d had it less than a day. Ouch.

Anyway, I have a tendency to get a bit impatient and rush things. As I mentioned in my piano stool post I needed to glue the legs in on one side as they kept coming out of the main frame. I put some glue where I thought it should be and then tried to push the two bits together by hand. This got me nowhere so I picked up the nearest thing to hand and start bashing (deeming the mallet in the under the stairs cupboard too far away.) Unfortunately, my object of choice was a pot of wood varnish that I’d just bought for the chest of drawers. After about 2 whacks the lid popped off and every drop of varnish poured out all over the carpet (yes I hadn’t even thought to use the bottom of the tin.) In my rush to clear up I then knelt on the tube of superglue that I had left on the floor with the lid off. Then got it on my hands. Then tried to peel some off and peeled off some skin as well. Then had to wear a jungle animals plaster for the next 3 days.

Fortunately all of the carpets in the house are currently 70’s hideous and so the fact that a big patch is now crunchy and discoloured doesn’t really matter. My jeans, however, are ruined (yes it was one of those occasions when I hadn’t changed my clothes first.) I also had to buy a new tin of varnish which added to the cost of the project. My finger is now mostly recovered, though I’m now sporting a jungle animals plaster on the other hand after managing to grate my thumb (I really need to buy some adult plasters.)

Hopefully I’ve learnt a bit from the experience and will strive to do better next time. I suspect, however, this won’t be the last time a DI-WHY?? moment occurs.

Quick update on the chest of drawers…I used an electric sander for the first time today and it was FUN!!

 

Piano Stool Makeover: Wood and Velvet Repaint

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My very very old, falling-apart piano stool had been in desperate need of a makeover for years and last week I finally got around to starting it. Step one was a bit of glue as one side kept coming loose. Then I got the Rust-oleum satin furniture paint in ‘Cotton’ out yet again (I promise I’ll use more interesting colours soon!)

After 4 coats on the visible bits and 2 on the rest it looked better but the velvet top was still in need of recovering. I do own a staple gun but this velvet was nailed to the actual wood and the seat does not detach so staples weren’t really an option. I considered getting some new fabric, taking the old nails out and using them to hammer on the new fabric (or using new ones if necessary). However, I’d been reading up about using paint on velvet and other fabrics and since it was such a small piece I thought I’d give it a try. I could always recover it later if everything went wrong and I do love my paint. Here’s the stool before…

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I used Dylon fabric paint in navy, which I could pick up from my local Hobbycraft (again I was impatient to wait) and which claimed to keep the material soft. Unfortunately the pots are really tiny so I ended up buying four to do two coats. I’ve since realised you can buy a bigger pot, but quite a lot bigger so only worth it if you’re doing a large chair or sofa. I was really pleased with the results…

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The fabric is not quite as soft but still feels and looks like velvet and I love the rich colour. You can also iron the fabric to lock the colour in.

All that was left to do was put a trim around it. I used some velvet ribbon from Hobbycraft that I bought for under £2. Then the usual wax and it was finished…

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All in all I’m very pleased. It looks loads better and cost hardly anything to do up. Result! And I will definitely be painting more fabric in the future as it’s so easy. As long as you’re not painting a really comfortable sofa I don’t think the slight decrease in softness is a big problem. Here’s what I used for the project…

 

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For my next project I’m tackling a chest of drawers. And (shock horror) I won’t be painting it white!