Thursday, April 26, 2012

Union Jack Stool

Last week I mentioned how I normally turn my nose up at trends, and this week I’m going to tell you about one that I’ve totally embraced. I know, I’m such an enigma.

People are painting Union Jacks on everything. A year ago a columnist on Design*Sponge even proclaimed that Union Jack is the new black. I couldn’t help but jump on the train. Not only am I pretty darn British in heritage, the Union Jack is really cool. It’s a bold, graphic, iconic pattern with near symmetry to boot. When painted on unexpected surfaces, it adds a lot of graphic character to a room.

The only thing I don’t quite understand about this trend is that it’s not really the easiest thing to do. I mean yeah, it’s straightforward, but I think free-handing something less precise would be a lot easier. It takes a long time to paint the Union Jack on stuff. If you’re a perfectionist like me, you’re measuring and trying to get your painters tape just right, and then you realize that you have to paint five coats of red to cover the white you’ve already painted, and then you realize that you really set up this pattern on a square instead of a rectangle so it doesn’t look quite like the real thing, but it’s still pretty darn close. Yeah, this was a labor of love.

I wanted to paint something graphic on a stool I picked up on Craigslist, so I decided on the Union Jack. Here's what the stool looked like before:

I was so bogged down in process that I forgot to take pictures of the process itself. I just wanted to get this thing done. Here’s a quick run down of how I tackled this:

  1. Sanded and primed the stool with two coats of Zinsser Cover Stain primer.
  2. Sprayed the stool with blue glossy enamel spray paint. When I realized how long it takes that spray paint to dry (4-6 hours!), I ran to the store and bought some Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2X in gloss navy blue, which dries a lot faster.
  3. Sprayed the stool with 3 coats of the new spray paint, flipping it over first and then putting it on its feet to make sure I got every surface.
  4. Let the paint dry for a few days and then measured and taped out the white surfaces.
  5. Used a brush to paint three coats of white satin Benjamin Moore paint that I had on hand.
  6. Let the paint dry a few days and then measured and taped out the red cross.
  7. Sealed the painter’s tape by dipping a small-ish brush in white paint and going along the edges of the painter’s tape.
  8. Used a brush to paint 4-5 coats (I lost track) of red.
  9. Let the paint dry a day and then measured and taped out the diagonal red stripes.
  10. Sealed the painter’s tape by dipping a small-ish brush in white paint and going along the edges of the painter’s tape.
  11. Used a small brush to paint another 4-5 coats of red for the diagonals.
  12. Dipped a very small brush in the white paint and touched up areas where the red had bled through.
  13. Brushed two coats of Minwax PolyCrylic over the seat.

As you can see, this was kind of a long process. But I think the stool looks pretty cool. I wish I had made the flag perfect. I hate not drawing flags correctly because it feels disrespectful. And let’s be honest, I already painted the flag on a place to sit your bum. But if the American Flag can be made into bikinis and Speedos, then this probably isn’t too bad. It could even be used as a small night table next to a bed to hold a book and a glass of water. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest Post at Bozzuto Beat Blog

Hey friends! I'm over at the Bozzuto Beat Blog today talking about my favorite thrift stores in Arlington and Falls Church. Check it out!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stenciled Chalk Paint Table

If you spend as much time reading furniture and design blogs as I do, you’ve probably read about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Well, I had read about 5 million blog posts where people use this magic chalk paint to change their furniture into a Paris flea market find look alike. I had two major issues with this:

  1. While the chalk paint was cute on romantic antiques, I was sick of seeing people apply a "cottage chic", "parisian flea market" style to Danish midcentury modern tables. It just didn’t make sense to me. Some of the furniture looked great, but did every piece of furniture a person laid their eyes on need to be painted? And in this way? Gahhhh.
  2. It’s freaking $36 a quart. And by the way, you really have to buy wax to put over it, which is another $26. 
But really my main reason was that there’s this real snotty side of me who just isn’t interested in embracing something seemingly ordinary that everyone else thinks is awesome, especially when I can see how it all turns out online. It’s the same reason why I never read the Harry Potter books. I mean everyone and their mother (literally) was reading it, and I already knew the story, and I didn’t feel like reading a bunch of long books just because everyone else loved them. I’m doing my same snotty move when it comes to the Hunger Games. I also fully rejected Uggs. There are some trends I embrace fully, but those are just some that I have snubbed.

Which is why you may be surprised that this post is about my first experience with chalk paint. Yeah, I caved. It happened after I went into a store for Benjamin Moore paint chips and asked the color consultant what her favorite whites for furniture were. And then I had this conversation:

Color Consultant: “You’re painting furniture? Have you tried that Annie Sloan Chalk Paint?? Oh my gosh, my sister and I picked up some paint and a bunch scrap wood and tried a bunch of different treatments. It is so fun!”
Me: “Nahhh, it’s just so expensive.”
Color Consultant: “But it goes so far! And there’s so much you can do with it!”
Me: “Huh yeah maybe I’ll try that…anyway, do you recommend any whites?”

This store didn’t even sell Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. But it was around that point that I decided if I was going to be even semi-professionally involved in this industry, I should try this new and popular product.  Plus, I’ll admit, I was curious. So I headed to Stifel and Capra in Falls Church and picked up a quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence from the stockist, Stylish Patina.

I decided to do a paint/stain treatment on an end table I bought on Craigslist. Before I applied the chalk paint, I had to sand and stain the top. I applied Minwax Dark Walnut stain to the surface. After the stain had dried for a couple days (not necessary, just my lack of time), I lined the edges of the table with painters table to prevent the paint from getting on the recently stained table surface.

Then I took to my adventure with the chalk paint. And I have to say; it was really easy to use. I applied two coats of paint and let it dry. The next night, I used the same stencil that I created for my desk to stencil the surface of the table while watching Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and Duck Dynasty on TV with my roomie. It was a wild Friday night.

After the paint dried, I went over the edges and details with a sanding wedge. Then I used a rag to wipe off the dust so that I could apply my wax. I ended up buying the Annie Sloan wax because it was high quality, easy to use, and I would’ve had to order other recommended wax so the price seemed worth it. I also splurged and bought a waxing brush because, well, I just love new tools and this one looked so cool.

Waxing was mega easy. I used Miss Mustard Seed’s video tutorial, and I highly recommend you do the same.

After I applied clear wax and let it dry for a while, I used a little bit of my Dark Walnut stain mixed with the clear wax and applied it to the table with a chip brush. I let it dry a tiny bit, and then spread it and wiped off the excess with a clean cloth. I really liked using this technique because I didn’t have to by dark wax (saving me another $26), and because it gave the color some very subtle depth.

The next day, I used a cloth to buff the table, giving it a subtle sheen.

I’m very happy with how the table came out, and I definitely understand why so many people are using chalk paint. It applies easily, and the best part about it is that it’s not supposed to look perfect, so if you make some mistakes, it just adds to the character. And because it covers very well with just two coats, and is easily watered down to give more of a wood-wash look, it does really go a long way. This paint looks good, and it goes on quickly. It may be $36 a quart, but time is money, right? 

I can’t say that I’m going to start painting every piece I see with chalk paint, but I’m definitely going to keep it in my stash and use it when I feel a piece is calling out for it. 

And oh yeah, this table is probably coming with me to the Lucketts Spring Market May 19-20 if I don’t sell it earlier! (If you didn't know I was selling, check out this post.)

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