Friday, May 31, 2013

Home Improvements: The Armoire

I bought this beauty at the thrift store.  It probably wasn't worth what I bought it for ($85), but it was love at first sight.  I went home to think about it (I'm not one to make decisions on impulse because I hate feeling regret), and I couldn't stand the thought of someone snatching it up while I was gone, so I went right back and bought it!
It's a beast to carry.  The heaviest furniture I've ever moved.  That means it's put together well.  ;)

The finish was literally flaking off, which made it extra ugly to people who couldn't see it for its potential, and extra easy to sand!

Here is what I did, step by step, along with the finishes I used.  It's a great guide for people finishing furniture for the first time.  There are a lot of "how-to's" out there, making it hard to put together exactly what you want.  But this piece turned out exactly how I wanted, so I can't help but share my secrets!

orbital palm sander with medium or fine grit sanding paper (you can sand by hand, but it's sooo much easier with a sander!)
spray-on primer (any brand): about $12
Behr paint sample as an accent color: about $3
Behr paint samples from Home Depot (for this LARGE project, it took less than 2 samples)(the samples come in flat only, which is perfect): about $3 each
Rustoleum Decorative Glaze in Java Brown: about $12, if I remember right
Minwax Wipe-On Poly (in clear satin): $8 (I got mine on clearance.  It's normally $12)
Four knobs from Hobby Lobby: $5
Lint-free rags
Paint brushes

Total cost for this project was $46!  That's a super fancy, nice-looking, like-new, boutique worthy armoire for $131!  And I still have enough wipe-on poly and decorative glaze for many, many more projects!

What I did:
I scraped off the loose finish by hand, then I used a $30 orbital sander to really prepare it well for painting.  You have to scuff up the surface of the existing paint so the new paint has something to grip onto.  If you don't sand beforehand, your new paint job will peel off with time and use.  The sides of this armoire are laminate, so I made sure to scuff those up with the sander really well.  After sanding, clean the dust off really well.
after sanding
After the piece is sanded and cleaned, spray on a can of  primer.  You can use brush-on primer, but spraying is so much easier!  This is almost as important as sanding.  It gives the paint one more thing to grip onto so it can withstand lots of use and wear.

After priming, I used a sample can of dark brown paint (I can't remember the color).  It was almost black.  I brushed that just on the corners and around the decorative curves of the doors, so that it would show through when I sanded the top coat of paint to give it that old, antiqued feel.

After that, use a good quality brush and/or roller to apply your paint.  I chose Behr Ethiopia.  Let me tell you, I have heard LOTS of good things about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  It's supposed to be amazing stuff.  I had researched it and even went to the only store nearby that sells it and talked to them about what I would need to finish up my armoire.  I wrote down the prices of everything, and I just couldn't justify it.  To stock up on everything for your very first project, you would need to spend $140--that's for paint, clear wax, dark wax, and a brush for the wax.  Sure, you'd have plenty of wax left over for future projects, but that's still a lot of money.  That would have meant putting $225 into my armoire, and I wouldn't have bought one brand new for that much.  It just wasn't worth it.  However, I loved the Coco color that Annie Sloan offers, so I wanted to get something as close to that as I could.  I found this chart that another blogger took the time to put together, and found that Behr Ethiopia is pretty much the same shade of brown as Annie Sloan's Coco.  Perfect!  So, instead of spending $40 on a quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Pain, I spent about $8 on two sample cans of flat paint at Home Depot.  Exactly what I was looking for!

This is what it looked like after I painted it and "antiqued" a few edges and corners with some sandpaper by hand:
You can't see the antiquing very much.  I was worried about going too far and regretting it.  See?  I hate having regrets.  Hate it.

But then I used the Rustoleum Decorative Glaze, and let me tell you...I have NO regrets there!  It absolutely transformed this project from "oh, nice paint job," to, "WOW!  Where did you get that incredible piece of furniture?!"

And the glaze was so easy, too!  Just brush on with a foam brush, then wipe off with a rag until you get the amount of color that you like.  Here are some short video tutorials put together by Rustoleum that show you just what you can do with their decorative glaze.  Here is the armoire with the left side glazed and the right side without glaze:

Amazing, isn't it?!  That's all from just one simple, easy-to-apply product!

After applying the glaze and allowing it plenty of time to dry (at least 8 hours), use a lint-free rag to apply the wipe-on poly.  This will provide a protective coat and make it easy to clean.  That's going to be a life saver with my two crazy little boys and their super sticky fingers.  ;)  I put on two coats of wipe-on poly, but you can do more if you'd like.  The clear satin is the perfect finish--not a lot of shine, but nice and smooth.  It's just right for an antiqued piece of furniture.  Also, I have used spray-on poly and brush-on poly to provide extra protection to my dining room table, and let me tell you, wipe-on is the way to go!  It's so fast and easy and you get a nice, even finish without worrying about brush strokes.

Once the poly dries, put on your new knobs and you're all set!


Isn't the difference amazing?!  I just can't stop looking at it.  I haven't quite figured out how I want to decorate the top, though.  I was tempted to sell it just to see how much I could get for it, but I just love it too much!  And I can't tell you how much I enjoyed working on it.  Who knew I could get into refinishing furniture?!  I'm seriously hooked.  I can't stop looking at the online classifieds to find my next project!  (Shhh...don't tell my husband!)  If you have anything sitting around, taking up space in your garage, let me know!  I'd love to take it off your hands, or help you refinish it.  I'm on the look-out for a new desk next!  And I plan to give new life to the kitchen stools.  I'm thinking white legs with green tops.  ;)

So, what do you think of my very first DIY furniture re-do?

TDC Before and After
You may also be interested in my numbered bar stools project.  It took one day, and it was free!


Yimleej said...

That looks awesome!! I need some tips on how to refinish our kitchen table - maybe you can give me some pointers when you're over here, looking forward to seeing you guys!

Kari Pike said...

Love it! you are a rock star Anna! hugs~