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.


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:


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


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:


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?


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


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.



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:


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

Big Bird (aka the Glider Post)

As you might recall from my nursery mood board post, I’ve been torn about what to do re: a glider/rocker.  See, the problem is that the ones I love are all a little pricey, especially when I think about the fact that this kiddo will likely be spitting up (and doing who knows what else) in this chair.  So while I love all of these, the reality is that they’re just not in our budget:

Gliders are from here, here, and here.  That last one is a new fave that I found thanks to my sis–turns out it’s designed by one of her friends!  Apparently stylish people flock together.

So the hunt has continued.  My sister-in-law had the genius idea of using an outdoor rocker, kind of like the one below (she actually has one picked out from Home Depot, but I couldn’t find it online; I’m guessing this one’s along the same idea).  At only ~$240 (it’s the Belvedere Wicker Rocker currently on sale at Target), it’s much more reasonable than the $1,000+ ones above.  But, I don’t think it will really jive with our nursery–it’s just a bit too, um, beachy.  But, luckily she lives near the beach, and so the concept works much better for her nursery than ours.  Of course, with that being said, I’m still a little bit in love with this chair, so I might have to get it for our new patio . . . 

In my continued hunt desperate search for an affordable, yet stylish rocker, I’ve decided to turn to my old stand-bys: that is, thrift stores and craigslist.  Well, craigslist did have some gliders, but they were all the traditional nursery ones, which, while great for a ton of people, just weren’t what I was looking for.  And so that left me with thrift stores.  And since Mr. Bunches LOVES thrift stores (insert heavy sarcastic tone here), I decided to strike out on my own a couple weekends ago (Mr. Bunches happened to be in China at the time, so it worked out well.  And yes–I said China.  Shanghai to be precise.  Check it out🙂

Okay, and now (finally–I know I can be a bit long-winded these days), here’s what I managed to find.  Are you ready?  Can I get a drumroll?  Can anyone else tell that I’m pretty excited about this?  Should I keep asking rhetorical questions?  Really?  You think I should?  Six isn’t enough?  You want ten?  Ten, really?  Are you sure?  Okay, that was ten.  Phew.  TA DA–Big Bird has arrived!

Now do you understand the post title?

I mean, just look at that long back and ridiculously amazing tufting!  Not to mention the fluffy softness of yellow velvet . . .

Now, I know some of you are currently completely skeeved out by this–an upholstered chair from a thrift store?  Ew and ick, right?  Well, wrong.  At least for me anyways.  The chair is in great shape, minus a couple stains that I figured I could try to vacuum/scrub out.  And the color was already perfect–yellow, so I didn’t need to reupholster it as long as I could get it looking pretty good.  Or at least, that was my plan.  The only problem is that it isn’t a rocking chair.  In fact, it only has 3 functioning legs.  So I guess it sort of rocks.  No, but seriously, I didn’t care if it was a rocker, because I found this:

So with that knowledge in hand, I decided to fork over the whopping $10 for Big Bird.  Yes–you read that right: $10.  That’s all it cost.  At that price, I figured if I couldn’t get it clean, well, I could just pitch donate it.  And, since I bought it at Buffalo’s ReStore, the money was going to a good cause anyways (Habitat for Humanity).  All in all, I was a happy bird.

So then, it was cleaning time.  While Mr. B was outside doing this last weekend:

I was doing this:

No, I was not making a meringue.  That’s homemade upholstery cleaner: 1 part dish soap to 4 parts water, beaten to a healthy froth (I only used about 1/2 cup dish soap to 2 cups water and that was enough for the whole chair).  Just scrub on the frothy stuff and then wipe it off with a clean cloth.  Not exactly the directions per the manufacturer, but oh well.

Anyways, I got to scrubbing and things were looking good.  Real good.

Of course, I may have scrubbed a bit too hard.  Here’s a shot of the velvet pre-cleaning:

and here’s an after-shot.  See how it’s a bit nubby now?  Oh well–lesson learned I guess.  Don’t scrub velvet fabric with a hard-bristled brush.

But, all in all, I’m pleased with how it came out.  It smells super fresh and clean, and a lot of the dirt/stains came off.

And hopefully over time the new nubbiness of the fabric will subside.  Oh, and see how the chair’s leaning in the picture above?  That’s the result of only 3 functioning legs.  So there you have it–a $10 nursery chair.  Can’t beat that, now can you?  Of course, the rocker mechanism will be ~$90 and then we’ll have to buy some wood to secure it, but all in all, the chair shouldn’t cost more than $150 total, plus a little elbow grease.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it turns out.

And just because I’m getting excited about this nursery coming together, here’s a quick shot of the bambino’s closet as it stands today.  I’m not sure what it is, but I can’t seem to resist buying stuff from Baby Gap (the sale rack of course–I’ve seen enough exploding diapers in my day to know that babies don’t need $50 outfits)–I sort of want that orange sweater in a grownup size.  Is that bad?

One last thing for today–my sister posted this great comment from my earlier mattress post, and I just had to share because I think it’s a genius move.  Especially for a second/vacation home:

For the Sedona house, we recently went on a mattress rampage… Would you believe that we opted for the Macy’s FLOOR MODELS. When all was said and done (and I whipped out coupons and opened up a credit line), we paid $375 for a $1,700 mattress and $475 for a $2,700 mattress!! We had to wait a few weeks until they were released from the floor, and get over our slight grossed-outness about zillions of people laying on them beforehand. Mom had a good point though… she said we aren’t weirded out by hotel beds that gazillions (more than zillions) of people sleep on, so why should this bother us? Alas, our vacation house is now fitted with some pretty dang plush mattresses with a little bit of history hahaha! xo, Sis


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