Nov 13, 2012

Past Projects: Armoire

Things have been a little overwhelming lately. It’s hard enough adjusting to being working parents of an infant - now we’re struggling with teething and still recovering from the hurricane. While we aren’t dealing with massive damage, there are still a million things to do. We lost a week and 2 weekends to the storm (one weekend prepping for the storm, one week and one weekend dealing with the aftermath). Our to-do lists are so long we don’t even have time to change a lightbulb... and with Thanksgiving next week and the start of the holiday season - I need a little more time to play catch up. There are contractors to line up (if we can even find one available to bribe). I haven’t done any fall yard clean up or even finished pulling up the garden. My citrus trees have aphids again (even though I washed them before I brought them in). We need to winterize the house... the list goes on and on.

So I thought I would share a couple of furniture refinishing projects that we did before we bought our house. Starting with the antiqued white armoire we have in our dining room (on the right in the picture below). It was actually once a pine entertainment center. Luckily at the time I was so proud of the project I was smart enough to take before and after photos in my pre-blogging days.

We actually did this giant refinishing project indoors in an apartment (in the springtime so we could at least have the windows open). It was a little messy, but that’s what newspaper and water-soluble acrylic paints are for. And if we can refinish multiple pieces of furniture in an apartment, anyone can.

The armoire started as a secondhand pine entertainment center, but it had good bones and was easily converted into a microwave/storage cabinet. Perfect for our apartment kitchen that was seriously lacking counter space and storage.

I have nothing against pine, but it was too cabin-in-the-woods for the rest of our decor. We thought about staining it, but I like really dark stains and the piece was too big to stand out even more. So we went with Benjamin Moore’s white dove paint (white always works on big hulking pieces), and decided to bring out the Anthropologie style details in the trim with a faux antique finish that just rubs on with a rag.

To start we removed all of the removable shelves and the bottom doors (but left the top doors on because they swiveled all the way around and it was actually easier to paint them on, and since we were antiquing the piece we didn’t care about a few paint splotches on the hardware). Everything was sanded inside and out with sandpaper (and baby wipes work really well for cleaning up sawdust in an apartment).

We primed everything with a small 3” foam roller for a smooth finish and used a 1.5” angled brush for the corners, and a tiny artist brush for the intricate detail work. It took 2 coats of primer over the whole thing, plus an extra coat over the knots to help prevent future bleed. We waited a full 2 days to let the primer cure before painting. Then we put on 2 coats of white dove paint using the roller/1.5” angle brush/artist brush combination again. The armoire looked so good white dove we were almost afraid to antique it, but we braved it out and forged ahead.

The antique glaze took some getting used to, I had to do some practice runs on the back of the piece. I found that using a wet rag to rub it on (instead of a dry one or a sponge) worked best for me. I wiped it on with a wet rag and wiped off the excess with another wet rag, which left just enough glaze in the dings, edges and detail work to look like the undercoat in an antique piece. I went through a lot of rags and it took a lot of time, but it really brought out all the details to the piece. I loved it and still do. The glaze required a full week (7 days!) to cure before we could polyurethane it. We used Minwax polywipe which is amazing stuff, you just wipe it on with a rag for a fantastic finish. We let it cure for another 3 days before putting the whole piece back together, including some pretty knobs from Anthropologie.

A media cabinet makes a great kitchen microwave and storage unit. It holds a ton of stuff!

Source List and Supplies:
  • Paint: Benjamin Moore Latex Paint in White Dove with a pearl finish
  • Antique Glaze in Pewter
  • Finish: Minwax Polywipe in a satin finish
  • Primer: Murano high adhesion primer in pure white
  • 4” sponge rollers, 1.5” angled brush, small artist brush for detail work, rags for glaze
  • Sandpaper in 220 and 400 grit and baby wipes for cleanup
  • Hardware: Anthropologie (on sale of course)

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