Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reader Redesign: Craigslist + Throwaway = Success!

It’s no secret that I love to buy old furniture and bring it back to life, so I thought I'd start a new column called Reader Redesign. If you have creative, interesting redesigns, send me an Email. (Be sure to include before/after photos and tips/lessons learned)

My friend Brie got creative and turned a neighbor's trash into her own treasure!

Here’s her letter: 

I recently redesigned my bedroom. I found this Ethan Allen small dresser, plus a mirror, dresser, and nightstand all from Craigslist. Regularly priced at $2,000, I got everything for $400--STEAL!
This next dresser, I actually got out of the garbage...yes I am a garbage hopper. Someone in my complex threw a perfectly good dresser away, and I knew with a little DIY distressing it could be beautiful. Plus, it already matched a dresser in our bedroom..BONUS! 

I always get nervous about distressing stuff because after you're finished painting you have to turn around and basically sand the paint you just put on.

But it really does bring old pieces back to life. Check out the transformation:



Look how great it looks with my Craigslist Ethan Allen furniture:

Here are my tips and lessons learned to share with your readers: 

TIP #1  If you are trying to match a color perfectly, I suggest taking the original into the store with you. I crated one of the Ethan Allen dresser drawers with me through Home Depot so I could make sure the color was a match.

TIP #2  When painting furniture, always sand first. This will rough it up just a little bit and allow the paint to stick better and not peel off. Even if part of the furniture is veneer or "fake wood" - I still suggest sanding it. I also suggest using an electric sander. It's much easier on the muscles, goes faster, and you get a smoother outcome. I got my little hand held electric sander for $20 at Home Depot and I use it for everything.

TIP #3  Paint outside if you can, especially with spray paint. I spread two old sheets over my entire patio so no paint ends up on our cement. Also protect yourself with safety glasses, and a face mask so you don't inhale fumes.

TIP #4  Always prime your furniture first. I suggest using a spray paint primer. It goes on and dries quickly. You don't have to completely cover the furniture, just give it a light dusting of primer.

TIP #5  Even though popular brands such as Behr, Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, and Pittsburgh Paints have canned paints...DO NOT USE THEM. I highly recommend using spray paint any time you are painting furniture. Spray paint goes on much smoother, faster, provides an even finish, and dries quickly. You can always choose a paint swatch that matches your piece and then match the paint swatch with a similar spray paint.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I first painted the dresser with Behr Lemon Pearl paint. It matched the Ethan Allen Dresser perfectly so I was very excited to get started. However, I soon learned that on a 90 degree day in the hot sun, the paint gets very stick very quickly and goes on terribly. I had big clumps starting to form, the brush strokes weren't even and looked awful. I continued to paint thinking it would get better as I went or that a second coat would cover up the mistakes but that just made it worse. I was afraid I ruined the dresser completely. I ended up having to sand off all the Lemon Pearl paint and headed back to Home Depot to get spray paint. I found a spray paint color that match the Lemon Pearl paint. Luckily, the spray paint covered the dresser perfectly and I finished painting the
entire dresser before I knew it.

TIP #6  Never use a glossy finish on furniture. It ends up making the furniture feel sticky, even after it dries. I always use a Satin finish or a Matte finish.

TIP #7  When distressing a piece of furniture to make it look more like an antique, always use a rough sand paper. The smoother sand papers don't take off the paint as well, and it will end up looking just old instead of antiquey. Also when distressing, always start with the edges and corners. Do those first and if you feel like you want more distress then take it one area at a time, but make sure not to distress it too much.

Check out another one of Brie's redesigns. She had a set of 6 great chairs, but wanted to give them an update. So she painted them a super cool blue.



This is such a great example of how you can make older pieces look beautiful and charming simply with a paint job. How cute is this table set up!?!?

Thanks Brie!

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