Monday, March 30, 2015

DRIFTWOOD FINSH OVER A LAMINATE OR VENEER TOP and the issues I had along the way

In this post I am going to not only explain how I did this driftwood or maybe some like to call, weathered-wood look, but will also mention lessons I learned along the way. I am always learning something and that something is usually that I need to listen to my intuition!

My table started like this, a plain old ugly table.  At first I was thinking is was a laminate top but while  working on it, realized it was not laminate but a veneer that had a very laminate look to it (because of the finish), so I believe that this faux finish would work with any sort of top.

Step 1 - 
I sanded it just like I would with any other piece.  Because of the laminate like finish, I did have to be careful and use a higher grit (220) paper to make sure there were no swirlies. Nobody likes Swirlies.

Step 2 - 
I knew the base coat was going to be white so I decided to use a white primer as that base coat thinking it would help with following coats bonding.  I was correct.

I watered the primer down a bit so I could get a thin, translucent coat. Any quality primer will do.

Being the professional that I am, I my husbands old dirty sock on my hand to smeared it around, ending it with long, even strokes before it dried.

Here is a video of that action. 

This is what it looks like after the water down primer was applies on one side with the sock.

Step 3 -
After the main, all over coat of watered down primer, I let is dry and then added a little more of the white primer with my brush in heavier, more random strokes.

Not looking very pretty at this point, is it?  And it's here you can notice my first issue….the leaves were a shade darker than the table.

I see this a lot with tables, the leaves are a shade different because they have been hiding under a bed for much of their lives. Give your leaves some light people!
But I get it. I have 2 leaves and only 1 in on a daily basis and the other is under my sons bed.  I make sure the leaves get a little bit of equal family (and sunlight) time and alternate which leaf goes back under the bed.  I am nice like that.

Step 4 - I would have stopped here and jumped straight to clear coating but….
I used a watered down shade of pale gray for the 2nd coat.

It is here that you can see my 2nd (big, fat) issue…the chip!  Grrrrr!

Because this was going to be a distressed, imperfect, faux finished top, I that just maybe, JUST MAAAYBE the chip would not really matter.

Well, it did.  It actually stood out more with the paint because of the graining going in the opposite direction. I was in denial for a while and kept going.

Still in denial.

Here it's a good time to tell you about my favorite "feathering" brush.

I have a pile of these old brushes that I pick up at garage sales.  You see, when I stop at a garage or estate sale, I head straight for the garage or the basement to check out the tools. I love old, strange random tools and old brushes which I use all the time for glazing and faux finishes.  

After I applied each coat of paint, I feathered it out with this brush to blend in the lines.  

Step 5 - the step that should have never happened
Back to the chip.

So long story short, after reality set in I sanded back not just that spot, but that entire section of that half of the table.  Ironically and sometimes annoyingly,  it's easier to blend in the entire SECTION than just one small SPOT.

I cut a piece of veneer (I have a few chunks saved) to fit the spot.  I filled in the tiny gaps with wood filler and added gel stain to that spot to match the original finish bestest I could.

I then did steps 2-4 all over again to this section of the table with a big fat smile on my face!

Like I mentioned in step 4, in a perfect world, this is where I would have stopped.

Step 6 - 
Because I needed to blend things in a little bit more (leaves and chip issues), I added one more coat of the watered down white (AKA whitewash).

Don't forget about the edges of the table!

Finally, everything blended in beautifully and it was a perfect finish for this table!

After a few clear coats, it was complete!

The skirting of the table, legs and the chairs were refinished in a creamy white lacquered finish.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Even though I do a lot of clean line, mid century style pieces, I sure do love an antique piece with  ornate detail like this one. 

The feet are so unique as well as the ornate, detailed trim work.  A lot of the trim on the second drawer was missing and although I am pretty (dang) good at recreating new trim, I do have my limits.  Not to mention with all the other detail going on, I didn't think that it would be missed.   

And in the end, I feel it would have been a little overkill to have kept it and removing it altogether was a smart choice.

I stripped and re-stained the top in a combination of Java and Antique Walnut gel stain by General Finishes. I was trying to match it to another piece my client had purchased from me and worried that the Java was going to be to dark to start with.
After the first coat of the 50/50 mix, I did another coat of just Java to deepen it just a little and it turned out to be the perfect shade.

 The base is in the SW-Repose Gray, a soft, creamy gray with just little distressing as she requested.
So pretty!

Sunday, March 15, 2015


We had a dumpster here all summer during our renovation and my husband kept threatening to throw this dresser in because it was in such bad shape.  But he knows better than to mess with my furniture!

Now, with no dumpster adorning my driveway, his phrase.."fire pit" has replaced "dumpster" when he thinks I am nuts.

I did not have the time or the will to fix the large, warped bottom drawers but the top drawers were ok. 

It hit me that this just might be a pretty good desk if I could remove the rails, trim and finish off the inside.  I personally liked the idea of a taller work station as I rarely sit down anyway, otherwise a stool would fit perfectly.
Which means I never really got a good "before" picture because when I get an idea, there is now way I am taking 30 seconds to go find my camera....I just start ripping stuff apart! 

After removing the inside stuff I add a few blocks to different areas so that I could attach my finished ply and have something to nail it to. 

Beginning stages of finishing out the inside

Here I have the top stripped and piece sanded down.  Now was just filling in nail holes and caulking for a nice, finished look.

Sooooo thennnnn, I got really busy and it sat this way for a few months:)

I knew General Finished was having a "mad scientist" contest where you mix a custom color.  I don't necessarily like contests but I love mixing colors!  So very last minute (like hours before it ended), I decided to enter.

This vintage photo was my inspiration.  I loved the bit of orangy red that was in it and wanted to match that color.

I used Brick Red, Persimmon and Coral Crush to create the exact match. Although I was adding as I went along to achieve the right color, the formula is something like this…

4 cups Brick Red
2 cups Persimmon
1/2 - 3/4 cup of Coral Crush

I also did a 50/50 mix of Java and Antique Walnut for the top.

Finishing with a satin clear on the base and a matte finish on the top.

Friday, March 13, 2015


I have a feeling the hardware on this piece was throwing people off, that is why it sat in my inventory for so long.

I thought about doing something with the door the entire time is sat there too.  I wish it was a candidate to simply pop out a panel and insert a piece of decorate metal screen but being a solid piece of wood, it wasn't and knew that I was taking my chances if I started cutting into it.

While talking with my client who was very interested in having this piece converted into an entertainment center, I brought up the fact that I could remove the wooden built in hardware, fill in the holes and add some regular hardware. I also went a step further and said I would attempt to change the door as well because she had her heart set on adding screen to it.  Her components where too large to fit in the little cubbies/shelves that I could have made behind the door but she really loved the look and still wanted it, if possible.

I carefully pried off the trim and thank goodness it was only nailed and not glued.

Pulled out the nails

Measured and used my table saw to cut as much as I could of the board.  I wanted nice, clean corners so stopped when the blade was close to the corners

And finished the corners with this handy tool. I don't use this tool often but always glad to have it around.

I cut the screen that my client wanted to size and tacked in on a few spots, just to hold before I added the trim.

I added the trim pieces by tacking them behind.

I filled in the corners and touched up by hand.

I LOVE how this turned out and kinda kicking myself for not doing this a long time ago.  Just opens up the door to other pieces and ideas for me.