As you can tell by the title of this blog, a whole lot of what I do isn’t exactly by the book. In fact, nothing that I do is by the book, which is why I can’t cook, but that is an entirely different blogpost.
I want to introduce you to one of my favourite pieces of redo furniture. Why is it my favourite? Mainly because it looks pretty. Also because it took such a long time to find, like a lot of the stuff that I redo (sigh), and truly because it cost me next to nothing. $12 to be exact.
As you can see from the pictures, it is a 1970’s model microwave cart type of stand with wheels. Mine was actually the ugliest thing that I had ever seen, so naturally I had to buy it so that I could redo the heck out of it. Mine also had white melamine with ugly orange stains on it glued to the top so that was even more tempting. How could I refuse? At $12 it was a steal.
Actually it was highway robbery and the thrift store should have paid me to take it off their hands. Nonetheless, I had to have it. Secondly, I had to have a use for it since I am not in the business of simply buying a bunch of useless junk. (Bah! Who am I kidding? Not my husband, that’s for sure! He thinks that all I do is buy useless junk!)
The basic process for redoing this project was to first prime the entire thing. I like to use KILZ primer. It looks like this:
Once that was dry, I painted the entire thing a lovely shade of…drumroll please…Maroon.
I know what you are thinking. Hideous. I was also thinking that which is why the entire time that I was doing this project, I kept having to reassure myself that it was only $12. If it was a total disaster, at least my husband wouldn’t kill me.
So now instead of an ugly oak coloured microwave cart from the 1970’s, I had an even uglier maroon coloured microwave cart from the 1970’s.
That’s how I roll.
However, believing that things had to get worse to eventually get better, I decided that since there was no turning back, I could only press forward with my original plan which was to create a dark espresso wood finish to match the furniture in my TV room.
I took something called gel stain next. It looks like this:
Now I have to tell you, I hate this stuff. I abhor it. It makes a huge mess, it stains everything, it never comes off your hands, it takes a lifetime to dry and if you turn your back on it for even a second, pretty soon it’s everywhere. It’s just the most ludicrous product that I have ever used.
So if you do attempt to create a darker wood finish for your light wood projects, I suggest that you not use this product. In fact, I suggest that you never use this product. Ever. Instead, I suggest that you do what I was obviously too caught up in the euphoric moment of furniture redo to do. Ask an expert. And by expert, I don’t mean me.
Seriously though, I can’t stress enough how much you will want to strangle yourself if you try to use this product. That being said, I was on a mission.
Using a large bristle brush (and that just means a big old brush that you don’t mind throwing in the garbage after since this crap will never come off of it, ever), I painted the gel stain on the maroon sides and the front of the cart using long straight brush strokes.
It looks very nice if you can see a lot of the maroon streaked underneath. It adds a cherry undertone to your dark faux wood finish. I also painted the door in the same way, but I could only paint one side of it as it had to lay flat to dry.
And then I waited. I waited and I waited and I waited, and I felt like I was waiting for the second coming that’s how long this thing took to dry.
Days went by. Still tacky. More days went by. It was still sticky. By that time I thought that the whole thing was a bust.
And for some reason I thought that it was a great idea to do this project in the front entryway to my house. Of course once it was already there, I couldn’t move it anywhere else without having to maneuver it through small spaces, thereby getting gel stain on everything.
So there it sat for days and days drying. I didn’t invite people over because they would have to walk around the thing just to get into the house. I spent days and days keeping a curious five year old from mucking it up with her hands. (Basically think oil paint drying time and multiply that by a thousand.)
And then one day, I woke up and lo and behold, it was dry. For real.
I was so happy until I realized that I had to turn that damn door over and do the other side. ~Instant feeling of regret for ever having started the project in the first place~
After more drying time and a lot of questioning what the heck I had gotten myself into, I was finally able to varathane the entire thing. Then I sat and waited for that to dry for another day and a half or so.
By that point I was starting to see a light at the end of a very long and arduous tunnel, so I was getting excited. Of course there was still the problem of the very old, very stained and very ugly melamine top. What to do?
Well I went to Home Depot and I did what I always do: Stand around staring at stuff trying to imagine a solution to my problem.
And then I spied some tiles that were the perfect fit. I can’t imagine what I would have done had I not found a tile that fit so perfectly. It was like it was fate. The gods were finally throwing me a bone after having to go through gel stain HE-double hockey sticks.
I bought some of the strongest adhesive I could find and I glued it on there. I changed out the hardware and voila! My favourite redo piece, quite possibly so because of all of the blood, sweat and tears that went into it.
Anyway, here is what a wee bit of magic can do. And a whole lot of time, maybe some wishful thinking and some prayer, a whole lot of glaze mostly. 😉
Isn’t she pretty? And she has a little shelf inside to store all of my DVD’s out of sight. Amen.