Happy New Year, everyone! I don’t know about you but this time of year can be tough on me. It’s not just the short days and getting up in the morning while its still completely dark outside, it’s also taking down all of the lovely Christmas lights I have up in the house. During the Holidays I have enough white lights up (upstairs & downstairs) that I literally don’t need to have regular lights on in the evening. I find the light from white Christmas lights so comforting that I don’t mind the fact that it gets dark before 5 pm.
And then comes January.
The lights come down and I can get a little…sad. I know I’m not alone in this. My first plan for fixing this problem is to move Christmas to the end of January instead of the end of December – more time for the anticipation and build up and less long dark winter on the far side of the Holiday. Are you with me???
So far – that one hasn’t caught on…
Instead, I’m keeping some of my white lights up year-round. Last year I got a bunch of lights with white wires instead of the traditional green wires – and they go a long way to improving my spirits in the long dark evenings. I even love the look of them around my kitchen windows during summer evenings as well!
On the positive side of January and taking down all of the Holiday decorations is that lovely cleaned out feeling it provides. It’s a perfect time to clean and organize and maybe even to makeover a useful piece of furniture that just isn’t making you as happy as it could. I bought this dresser from a woman who was redoing most of her house and who had some really amazing authentically old painted pieces that she was keeping. In comparison, this dresser, which she was using for kids clothes right up until I came to pick it up, just didn’t measure up in the charm department.
I was pretty sure I could fix that…
Since I can’t find a fully unpainted “before” picture (sorry!), take a look at this closeup – and check out that bright reddish finish! The dresser wasn’t in bad shape – a little flaky on the drawer fronts – nothing broken, busted, or loose. It’s not super old but it is old enough that it’s made entirely from real wood and doesn’t have any metal (or plastic!) sliders for the drawers. It’s well made, super clean, and all of the moving parts work perfectly.
But that red…
And here’s the real problem with all of that red-ness. It’s not just that it’s unpleasant – because that’s completely subjective. Some people might really like that tone. There’s an awful lot of furniture out there that looks like this – so folks were obviously very much into it at some point. The real problem is that once you do any amount of sanding on a piece like this the red stain will bleed through whatever paint you try to put over it.
In some cases – as with the top surface of this dresser – you can keep on sanding until all of the red stain is gone and that solves the problem. As you can see from the pictures, I decided to paint the top of this dresser but I could have stained it in a color I liked better – because I was able to remove all of the red with simple sanding. Once I started to do some sanding on the sides of the dresser I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get it all (the sides are made of a different sort of wood) and that I would likely have a problem with bleed through.
And here is what it looks like when you ignore what you know about refinishing and painting furniture and try to paint over it anyway…
And it doesn’t matter how many coats of paint you put on there – it. still. comes. through.
There are a couple of different ways to deal with this problem. I was in a hurry so I decided to try some quick drying spray shellac that I have. One very light coating – that dries in under and hour and I was good to go. I was very happy that I hadn’t done any sanding to the drawer fronts – even though they were a bit flaky. I decided to apply my Milk Paint directly with no prep work at all.
I added a set of antique glass knobs that came with another piece I bought a long time ago. You can see that piece here. Those knobs were not original to that dresser and they looked pretty silly on there. I cleaned them up – but only a little – and added them to this new project.
Personally, I love that they still have all of the character of their long lives on them. You can buy new knobs like these – but I always feel like they’re kind of uninteresting. It would be pretty easy to get all of the paint splatters off and even paint the centers…but I really like them better this way.
The end result is a beautiful clean piece with just the tiniest bit of chipping, and careful distressing, perfect for the quiet January feel of my house. The color is Schloss, which I find to be quite close to Trophy, but just a bit more of the brown/beige family in there with the grey and overall a little lighter.
And just because winter is dark and we all could use a little more light…
I’m not keeping this one though…it’s for sale.
Bizarrely – I realized recently that I don’t have ANY of my own painted pieces in my house! And I have a few VERY good candidates around here (that I already own!). And personally I LOVE painted furniture – so I’m honestly not sure what’s going on there.
Hmmm…I feel a series coming on…