Hello! I know it’s been awhile since y’all have heard from me- you know how life just sometimes gets too big and doesn’t leave room for anything else? Yep, that happened to me. Want to know how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans. On a positive note, I quit smoking! I had quit 2 times before, both times when I was pregnant, and I could have kicked myself for picking it back up. I really struggled quitting again, I wasn’t pregnant so I didn’t have the extra initiative that made it so easy and imperative that I quit, put it off and put it off and really thought it was hopeless. Then something hit me, I was just so sick of it all, so I bit the bullet and bought some patches. And you know what? It really wasn’t that bad. I use the patch for 10 days, then nothing after that. I didn’t feel the same internal struggle this time. Instead I really felt God’s hand guiding me through that trial. And I’m grateful. And I’m thankful. But just because I’m grateful and thankful doesn’t mean I’m not glad that’s behind me! 😁
Anyways, on to the good. If you looked through the about page, you saw that the idea for this blog grew out of my need to change my surroundings, shake off my old life and embrace the possibilities of my new life. On a budget of course and without moving, which just isn’t possible yet. And looking around my home, I really didn’t see anything that just made me smile- I’m talking in a way of furniture and furnishings only here! Everything was serviceable, basic and boring! Nothing here would show anyone who walked in the door the type of lively adventuring family that lived here. So I’m on a mission to take change each room, to give it an injection of personality and style it’s been lacking, to do that on a budget, work with what I have. And do it within the confines of a lease as we are renting, so painting the walls, updating countertops, and making structural changes are out. We are hoping to buy in the not-so-distant future and then I can really go nuts and I can’t wait to show you all the ideas I’ve filed away for that day. And I want to chronicle this journey – spiritual and colorful- on this blog. I’ve decided to start with the dining room. Most people would start with the living room or bedroom, but both those rooms need a lot of work, so to get the ball rolling I’ve decided to start here. This room we use very often, is very visible from the entrance to our home, but has a small footprint. I’m going to show you all the DIYs I do to completely change these rooms, then I will do a final review of the room put together as a whole. Here’s my completely embarrassing before. Basic and boring and ugly.
Nothing extra, no color, nada. Ugh. And to kick it off, I’m going to start with the dining table, the centerpiece of the room. Here it is, continuing the common theme of the rest of the room, basic and boring and blah. Honestly, what I really wanted to do was a reclaimed wood rectangular farmhouse table with matching benches, but this room is teeny tiny, and just doesn’t support that idea. Not to mention remaking the table we have will save money, so the plan is to remake what we’ve got into something that makes me smile, then when we get a bigger dining room that giant table dream is all mine.
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(Just ignore whatever’s on the floor- I do! 😊)
There wasn’t a lot of interest going on with this table, so I decided stenciling was in the cards. This table has a middle leaf that we break out for holidays and extra dinner guests so the first move was to pull that out of the back of the closet and set it up on the table so my design would match up whether the leaf was in or out. I cleaned the table top to bottom and then began to work out my design. I have a stencil with a medallion on it that I love, so I decided to use that rather than purchase a new one.Bluepplies:
- Acrylic Paint- Antique Parchment
- Minwax Wood Stain- Classic Gray
- Minwax Wood Stain- Special Walnut
- Minwax Polycrylic- Satin
- Paint for table legs- SW Something Blue
I cut out a bunch of paper circles roughly the size of the mandala to help visualize a pattern and also to get the spacing correct without the commitment of paint yet. It would be a terrible thing to be halfway through stenciling when you figure out you should have started your pattern to inches to the left. Oui!
It was also important to me that the pattern look good with the leaf as well as without the leaf. So I played with my paper circles until I was happy with a design, snapped a picture to be able to recreate it later, and cleared off the table top to sand off the old finish. After that was done (or after I thought that was done – more on that later) I replaced my design on the table and stuck the circles down with a little piece of tape. I got out my antique white acrylic paint, my stencil and a sponge. Usually I use a stencil brush to paint the paint on the stencil, but I was envisioning a worn, distressed look, so I wasn’t too concerned with making each stencil crisp and perfect. Blurry lines and uneven paint would fit in with the design nicely. However, just in case you might be thinking that a stencil brush isn’t necessary and a sponge would work fine always, let me tell you that this is not the case! It is a lot easier to get a nice even, crisp stencil with a stencil brush. I am all about saving money, but sometimes the proper tools are necessary!
Back to our regularly scheduled program: using my paper design map, stenciling the tabletop took no time at all. I would remove the paper circle, replace it with my stencil, lining it up roughly with my previous circle, pick up some paint on my sponge, pounce it on a piece of cardboard to get rid of the excess paint, (you really need very little to stencil) held the stencil down firmly and pounced. I’m left-handed, so I worked right to left, and it really moved quite quickly. I finished within 45 minutes.
After it was dry – which is the magic of stenciling with acrylics for impatient people such as myself, this small amount of paint dries so quickly- it was time to add the stain. I love the coolness of Minwax Classic Gray Wood Stain, but this time I wanted to add some warmth to the color, give it a kind of beachy brown time-worn look. So I began mixing stain colors to find a concoction I like. I tested it on a scrap piece of pine, which is the same type of wood as the table top so I can get an accurate idea of the color of the table would be. I settled on a mixture of three parts classic gray to 1 part Special Walnut. It is really beautiful. It keeps the beautiful gray color while infusing with just a hint warm brown. I’m really pleased with the color. Pleased with myself and feeling like a DIY goddess, I began applying my custom stain color to the stenciled tabletop and…DISASTER! (Think of the music Dum-dum-DUM!!) In my haste to get over the prep and get to the fun stuff, I did not sand all the old finish off.
Splotches of old blonde wood show through the wet stain, all over the place, refusing any hint of my potion of gorgeous stain color. It looked like a demented Jackson Pollock Dalmatian someone tried to disguise with a stencil. Grrr… I tried waiting for my stain to dry, then hitting the spots of old finish with my orbital sander and reapplying stain just those areas. Even worse. I had no choice but to sand off everything really this time- swearing under my breath quietly because my kids were in the next room explaining to me why I should take my time and do the job right. Wonder where they learned that lecture?
Let this be a lesson to you all. Use my gigantic mistake to ensure you don’t make one of your own. It may be boring, but completing the prep work thoroughly is just as important as ensuring your paint job is even and streakless. You feel ridiculous when you get halfway through a job and because of rushing you have to start again at the beginning.
So I started again, repeated all the steps above… Fast forward, fast forward… Okay. Applying my custom stain color. I swiped on a thin coat, waiting about 15 minutes, and both off the excess stain. It was so beautiful. And honestly, it felt amazing after all my screw-ups to get to this point and love the results.
I added a second coat of stain and after that dried I lightly distressed the table with sandpaper around the edges and here and there on the top, then sealed with three coats of satin polycrylic. While waiting for all those coats to dry, I covered that 90’s era hunter green on the legs with Sherwin-Williams Something Blue. I’m going for a tropical, colorful boho-glam look for the whole room, so I might end up changing the table like color to a brighter, more saturated blue with some antiquing wax to highlight and distress, but I decided to wait until I found a rug I like before making a final decision.
And here she is! Honestly I love this table so much more! I didn’t think it would really look this good. I thought I would make it serviceable and be able to handle it until I could get my farmhouse table, but I’m really digging the distressed stenciling, the time- worn glamour. What do ya’all think? Any suggestions for changes to the legs?
Til next time, have fun! Go nuts! Get messy! Amazing things can happen when you do! Xo-Caroline
P.S. These are the fun parties I link to!