Project 5: Refinishing Furniture with Minwax Polyshades

When we first moved into our home, the nursery looked like this: Before_House_Shot_0052 We then turned the room into a guest room, by basically adding a bed and some paint.  But let’s be honest–as any of our guests can attest to, the room was never really finished.  Sorry guests! So when we decided to turn this room into the nursery, we started with this:

And while I like the functionality of the built-ins and someday when the kids are older, it will be nice to have the desks and whatnot, I currently can’t stand the way they look.  The woods are all different shades!

And while we’re being honest, it’s not even really all wood. The countertop is actually a laminate, and the rest are all veneers. So, what was I to do? I could rip it out, but then we’d have a flooring issue since these are original to the house and so there are no wood floors underneath. I could paint it all, but that would take forever and remember: I was preggo at the time I tackled this project; I could sand and stain it all to try and match the laminate, but again: preggo and not interested in a ton of work. So what did I decide? To do a sort of mix: paint the shelves and trim, and then use a cheater method to stain the cabinets and drawers to match the countertop.  First up, priming and painting the shelves and trim (I used Kilz latex primer and Sherwin Williams Pro Classic color-matched to Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White).

  

Once the first coat of paint was on, then I caulked around all the edges. Then did the final coat of paint.  The next step was tackling the drawers and doors. I didn’t feel like sanding them down so that I could stain and seal them. Just too much work. So I decided to take yet another page out of the Young House Love handbook and try Minwax Polyshades.  Remember when YHL used this method to do their new kitchen’s lower cabinets?

My goal was to have the cabinets match the color of the laminate top. So I took some pics of the top with my phone and headed off to Lowe’s.

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There, I picked up some steel wool (per the directions on the Minwax can) and a can of Minwax Polyshades in Tudor, Satin finish (the same as YHL since it actually seemed that color would be a close match).   Once home, I then took all the hardware off the cabinets and drawers and used the steel wool all over everything. Then wiped it all down with a damp cloth.  I don’t have any pictures of these steps. Sorry. I then applied my first coat of the Polyshades. I bought a new paintbrush for this since it’s oil-based and I planned to just throw away the brush when I was done.  I found that this stuff goes on extremely sticky and it’s hard to get it to not show brush strokes. Even with a light hand. And even harder to get an even coat.  So be warned–it probably worked so well for YHL because they made their cabinets super dark. I’m not so sure this would look particularly good in a lighter color.  I started by doing the insides of the cabinet doors, just so I could get the hang of it before tackling parts that would actually be showing.  And I did get better at applying it. It took me only about 15 minutes to do the insides of the cabinets and all 12 drawer fronts (to allow for drying, my plan was to tackle the insides of the cabinets first and let those completely dry before moving on to the outside of the cabinets).  This stuff also royally stinks, so make sure you’ve got adequate ventilation.  Well, after one coat (and one day of drying time since dry and wet did look different), I found that the color was all wrong. The laminate top had way more red in it and the Tudor was definitely more of a chocolate brown.  Here’s a shot of one of the inside of the doors after one coat of Tudor:

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And here’s another phone shot of the laminate top (this time it looks totally different than before, right? Dang iPhone):

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See how it’s way more red? So I headed to Home Depot this time, where I discovered that HD carried an entirely different set of colors of Polyshades than Lowe’s. Not sure what that’s all about. But I ended up buying American Chestnut:  

My plan at that point (since I already had one coat done in the Tudor) was to just do my final coat in the American Chestnut. I figured that the blend of the two would be a close-enough match to the laminate top.  Following the instructions, I then rubbed my first coat down with more steel wool, and wiped it all down to remove any dust.  I then proceeded with applying the chestnut. I found the key was to get a decent amount in the brush, and apply it over the whole piece quickly. Then immediately go back and do long brush strokes with the grain from end to end. However, even with my technique perfected, I still found that the Polyshades went on smoother in some places than others. Here’s a pic of two drawers as an example:

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I finished the drawers first since they only had one side. I decided to keep the original hardware since the size was pretty unique and I couldn’t find a replacement I liked. Plus, being the lazy preggo woman that I was, I didn’t feel like going with a different size and then having to patch the old holes and drill new ones. Plus, brass is making a comeback these days, right?

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  From a distance, I think it looks pretty good and is a vast improvement over where it started.

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But close-up, well, let’s just say it’s not the best. It didn’t come out nearly as well as Mini B’s dresser.

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So if you want to use this on an heirloom or quality piece of furniture, then my advice? Don’t. Instead, take the time to actually sand it down and apply stain. Even if it is just veneer.  But, if it’s a piece you don’t really care about, and/or you’re looking for a quick fix, then this is the ticket. Although, while the application of the product goes quickly, with drying time it is still a multi-day affair.

And so this is where the nursery stood when Baby B made his debut:

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Now that he’s been around for two months, it’s probably about time that I get on finishing this room already.  Stay tuned . . .

Kitchen Floor Update

Now that I’m trying to figure out a plan for Bambino #2’s nursery, it’s got me thinking about the longevity of things.  And since I’ve been focusing on picking out a rug for the nursery, I’ve been trying to see how rugs hold up.  Now, that could be a whole ‘nother post, so I’ll try to stick to the title of this one.

And with that, it’s been just about three years, and I have to say that I’m still in love with our kitchen floor.  Remember when we had it installed (see here)?

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Well, through multiple winters, parties, and Idiot Nation assaults, our floor still looks brand new:

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It actually makes me regret that we didn’t just install it in our whole house instead of having our wood floors refinished.  Sigh.  Those haven’t held up so well, but that’s a story for another day.

Oh, and I realized that I never gave any details about what type of flooring it is, so here goes:

It’s the Exalt Luxury Vinyl Tile in Woodland Gray (unfortunately they have since discontinued this color, but they’ve replaced it with Grey Pine which I actually might like even better).  It’s a click-together, no-glue floating floor, which is why it was so easy to install and only took our contractors one day.  The best thing about it is that it is completely impervious to all types of kitchen spills–water has no effect on it, food and spills wipe right up with water, and even salt from Buffalo winters cleans easily.  It’s a commercial grade flooring which I think is also the reason it’s held up so well–it was more expensive than the cheap-o luxury vinyl tile you can find in home improvement stores, but there’s a reason for that price.  It’s so much thicker and more cushiony than the thinner stuff.

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So now my mission is to find a rug with equal staying power.  Any suggestions?

And along the lines of updates, here’s a recent picture of Mini Bunches–this was her first glimpse of what Santa brought her on Christmas morning.

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Nursery Ideas for Number Two

It’s been a long time since I actually wrote a blog post.  Maybe it’s because I have a two-and-a-half year-old, maybe it’s because the demise of the blog world has me feeling a little foolish, or maybe it’s because I’m growing another human inside me; I guess it doesn’t really matter what the reason for the hiatus has been, because what really matters is I’m back.  At least for a little bit.  I think I’m nesting, which might be a little early, but considering that last time I was pregnant we remodeled our kitchen and bathroom, it’s probably about time.

As with Mini Bunches, we’ve elected to wait to find out the sex of baby #2.  But of course we have our predictions–I’m officially predicting boy while Mr. Bunches and Mini Bunches are officially on the girl train.  My in-laws (almost all of them anyways) predict boy as does much of my family.  So we’ll see who’s right in a few more months.  Either way, we need another nursery.  And that means I’m back into mood boards.  But I have to admit, I’m struggling here.

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I’ve decided on a magical woodland theme (loosely of course–I still want the room to be modern and be able to grow with the kid), but I’m a little stuck.  I’ve found some great inspiration online, so I just need to start getting some things into the room and then we’ll see where we end up.  Right now, the only items that I’m definitely going to get from the mood board are the Restoration Hardware faux taxidermy heads and the Ikea Hemnes dresser.  Oh, and since the baby will be taking over our guest room, the paint color is going to stay (Benjamin Moore’s Ocean Air that we used on the ceiling in Mini B’s Nursery).

Anyways, here are some rooms I’m digging:

Delia Hauser’s Nursery

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DIY on the Cheap’s Gray and Gold Nursery

A Modern Woodland Nursery from San Diego

Keane’s Modern Woodland Nursery (love this graphic crib sheet)

So any thoughts? Suggestions always welcome . . .

Step It Up

I haven’t blogged in about 10 million years.  Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  So here’s a quickie–a little update I did that took two naps to complete, so about 4 hours for a regular person (that’s just for the vinyl sticker application; the rest of the steps were slowly completed over the past three years).  First, where we started when we bought the house:

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And where we are today, after stripping the carpet, painting the doors and trim, painting the stairwell and upstairs landing, and adding some chevron-tastic details:

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Big difference, huh?  The chevrons aren’t painted on (I don’t have that kind of patience or time these days, and I also didn’t want something that would take a lot of effort to remove if I didn’t like it); instead, they’re vinyl stickers from here.  Yep, Pot & Kettle Studios made them custom to fit my risers, and they were super easy to install.  And when I’m sick of them, they’ll be super easy to peel off.

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Here’s a shot of them in black from their etsy shop:

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So there you have it–proof that we’re still alive and still making some changes around here . . .

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UPDATED: 2013 Goals

So I made the bold move to put my 2013 goals in writing, so now it’s time to face the music.  This could be really depressing, but let’s dive in . . .

  • Paint the fireplace.   STILL NOT DONE.  I need courage folks–tell me to do it.  Tell me it will look amazing.  I’ve been trying to muster my courage by scouring Pinterest for similar makeovers, but I haven’t found anything.  However, I did determine that it’s a lannon stone fireplace, which led me to this beautiful image (from here):

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So what do you think?  Any suggestions to somehow handle this beast?

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  • Hang new lights in the kitchen.  DONE.  You can just barely see the new ceiling light in the reflection below.

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  • Create better organization in our entryway.  DONE and detailed here and here.  Update: this has still been working out pretty great, especially with the cart as a catch-all.

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  • Hang artwork/pictures.  Partly done, but still a long way off.

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  • Get a vintage sideboard for the dining room.  NOT DONE, and I’ve changed my mind slightly.  I need a piece that’s less than 12″ deep so that it doesn’t crowd that side of our dining room table, so I’m thinking of having something custom made.  Need to get on that already.
  • Get new dining room chairs.  DONE.  Mini Bunches is a big fan, and so are we.  These aren’t as tip-prone as our old ones.  

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  • Style the family room built-ins.  DONE.  SORT OF.  I THINK.  MAYBE.  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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  • Paint the master bathroom.  DONE. No pictures yet, but once I get some new lights, then I’ll share.  
  • Get window treatments for the master bath, guest bath, guest room, and Mr. B’s office.  Three out of four ain’t bad, right?
  • Finish painting all the trim in the house.  NOT DONE.  I don’t know if this will ever be done.  There’s just. so. much. trim.  But I made some progress.  So that’s something right.  Plus, I decided to paint all the doors in the house, and I’ve gotten through about 60% of them.  Now to just knock out the remaining 40%.  And then change all the hinges and doorknobs.  Oy vey.  Eventually, each door will look like this:

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  • Unpack our remaining boxes in the basement.  NOT DONE.  But progress has been made.  Once we have a garage sale this spring, I think we’ll be in better shape.
  • Paint our master bedroom.  NOT DONE.
  • Paint the upstairs hallway.  NOT DONE.
  • Paint the guest room.  Partially DONE.  I forgot to paint under the desk, and I’ve also decided that I need to paint the soffit.
  • Paint Mr. B’s office.   NOT DONE.
  • Paint the guest bath.  NOT DONE, but I did get all the trim painted in there, so that’s something, right? 
  • Take more pictures.  Especially ones with a little twist.  And get them edited/posted in a somewhat timely basis.  We all knew this was going to be a fail, right?  I had less than 15 posts in 2013.  But I had so much fun with Mini B, that I’m going to forgive myself.

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Well, the report card’s in, and I’m going to score it a C+.  And I’m going to refrain from doing a 2014 goals post I think, especially since there are so many 2013 goals that still need to be completed.  So I shall carry on, and maybe my 2013 goals will be finished sometime in this decade.  Fingers crossed!

Pack it up Pachysandra!

Remember when our house looked like this?

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And then how it looked like this:

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Well, while all that sunken concrete and overgrown Pachysandra may do it for some of you, it didn’t really hit the mark for us.  So we finally hired us some landscapers and got our curb appeal on!

It was amazing how much they accomplished in only three days (we had a different contractor replace the limestone steps and take out the iron scrollwork a few weeks earlier–since that post is pressure-treated wood, we were told it has to stay uncovered for a season, but then we plan to paint it or vinyl wrap it) . . .

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And to really see the difference, here are some side-by-side comparisons:

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Of course, now that it’s been a few weeks and our grass has grown back in, things are really looking better.  I wanted a lot of color, and next spring we should be able to see it (we’ve got hydrangeas, lilies, peonies, dogwood, cherry trees, etc. so there should be lots of blooms).  It’s not perfect, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.

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Mini B gives it her stamp of approval.  What do you think?

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Entryway Solution? Maybe

Our entryway has been a bit of a mess ever since we moved in (the one from the garage to the kitchen; the main entrance doesn’t really get used, but this one gets lots of traffic).  So much so that I don’t even have any decent pictures of it.  You can catch a glimpse of it here:

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And then here’s a phone shot from a few weeks ago when we finally hung a mirror.

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The problem is that the piece of furniture we had there (an old server) just did nothing for us storage-wise.  And it also wasn’t really my style.  So I had been on the hunt for a solution, but wasn’t exactly sure what would work.  And with a growing Mini Bunches, I’m also not positive that whatever solution we find now will be something lasting for the future.  Which brings me to my point: I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Or time.  Especially if it’s something we might outgrow in a few years.  Enter thrift stores–the cheap solution to almost everything.

And so two weekends ago, when Mr. B was away for his annual Idiot Nation trip to Vegas, I hit up my favorite thrift store.  You know, the one where I found this blue beauty (I’m still regretting not scooping her up when I had the chance, but I digress) . . .

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Unlike my last visit to this particular Salvation Army, this time around it was slim pickings.  But just when I was about to leave, I spotted this:

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Admittedly, not much to look at, but I liked the mid-century lines, the size was right, and it was solidly built of wood (except for the yucky laminate top, but I dealt with that during my last furniture refinishing adventure, so no big deal there).  And the price?  Just right.  Actually, better than just right–just $15 kind of right.  SOLD.

Once I got it home and wrangled it in the house (it’s super heavy so some wrangling it did take), I got to work.  Since I only had nights and nap times to work my magic, I wasn’t planning an extensive refinishing; rather, I was just going to follow the steps John and Sherry took on their TV stand overhaul and hope for the best.  So here’s what it looked like once I got it home and completed the first step: CLEANING.

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I scrubbed the piece down with a Magic Eraser just like YHL did.  And I also wiped down the drawers with a vinegar-soaked rag.  My results?  Well, as you can see above and below, the Magic Eraser removed the finish in quite a few places.

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Again, since I only paid $15, I wasn’t too upset about that, but if you’re trying to fix a piece that you really care about, then maybe test out the Magic Eraser in an inconspicuous spot first to be safe.  But it did remove a lot of grime, so it wasn’t all bad.  As for the vinegar wipe-down of the drawers, that totally worked–it completely removed all the musty old smell.  So we were 1 for 2 at this point.

Up next?  A little conditioning treatment.  Using these (again, just like YHL):

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I first used the Howard Restor-A-Finish to wipe down everything.  It definitely brought some shine back and made the dried-out wood come back to life a bit.

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Much better, right?  It didn’t completely fix all the spots where the Magic Eraser had, er, erased, but it helped a lot.  I then used some leftover Minwax wood stain in walnut to rub in the really light spots, and when even that didn’t fix things, I used a Mr. Sketch Scented Marker in Brown.  That, my friends, worked WONDERS.  I just scribbled it on, and then wiped it away.  It was just about perfect at evening out any light patches.  So once all of that was done it wasn’t looking so bad . . .

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My last step was to give it a good ol’ rub down with some wax–the Howard Feed-n-Wax.  And just like Mr. Miyagi says: wax on, wax off.  That step took less than 30 minutes, and this thrift store find was complete!

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In addition to the desk, we also added a coat rack (from Crate & Barrel here) and a basket for shoes.

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I’ve also ordered a steel truck from Steele Canvas to put on the left-hand side of the desk.  That way we can just drop our bags into it and hopefully keep the area looking reasonably pulled together.

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So there you have it.  Our second attempt at wrangling some type of order in our entry way.  Here’s hoping it works!

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And a little bonus Mini Bunches just for making it all the way through this post . . .

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