Friday, April 22, 2011

From country to old world charm

Don't hate me because I found this amazing deal. They are out there! You just have to be diligent in your search for the perfect item. I was looking for a larger piece to work on for my book project and came across this oversized armoire on craigslist. It was listed as a divorce sale for $100. Well worth the drive to Denver. When I arrived at the house for pick up, I was pleasantly surprised to see it's scale. Well over 6 feet tall and a generous four feet wide, this armoire was sturdy, solid wood and just waiting for a new personality. At first, I purchased it to re-purpose and sell at A & J's but just after finishing it, decided it was definitely a Grant piece and traded my smaller version in my bedroom for this upscale piece. I am going to re-do my smaller piece and put it in my booth instead. Here is the step by step. This is a complicated process using layers of paint with different techniques so I will try to be as thorough as possible. It is layered in two shades of green, black, butter yellow and raw umber stain and dry brush. The results are worth the effort. Total project time for me was three hours but I am a seasoned painter. I would block off twice that if you are just starting out. Between the hesitation to put more or less paint on to the dry brush being too wet or the stain too drippy, it may take you longer. Be patient with yourself. YOU CAN DO IT!
Before...I had already decided on green and taken two drawers out!

First step, base the entire piece in Americana furniture paint in sage green. Add Glidden butter yellow accents to corners and in random areas on the cabinet.

View of the random butter yellow accents on the side of the cabinet. Always follow the grain of the wood when adding accent paint.

Third step was to add random moss green accent layers. I concentrated on the edges of the cabinet doors and drawers and corners. This is to give the cabinet some depth. I used a brush just dipped in the paint but not deeply dipped only on the edge of the bristles. This is close to a dry brush technique but you don't dab the excess paint off on a towel, you just dip the edge of the brush lightly in paint and apply it immediately.
DON'T BE AFRAID!!! The next step is to add a dry brush layer of black paint. Black is a neutral so when used correctly, it unifies the other colors. I used a dry brush technique to "antique" the edges, corners and recessed paneling lines. I always follow the natural direction of the woodgrain. Here's how it looks.
This photo shows the difference between the top and bottom drawers being antiqued with the black and the middle drawer not done yet. You can see the depth of character that the black paint adds.
At this point, the paint should be randomly brushed on and the cabinet sort of look like a big mess of colors. That is what it is supposed to look like. You will pull this weathered look together with a raw umber stain.
Look at the difference between the top and bottom of the side of the cabinet. The top has been stained with a water and raw umber mixture and brushed on from top to bottom in one direction. I let it sit for about three minutes and then take a dry towel and lightly rub off.
Continue to stain entire cabinet. It's ok if the stain sort of develops "run" marks. It all adds to the character of the piece. This is the finished product so far. I am going to allow it to "sit" in the garage this morning and then decide whether or not I want to sand it down and distress it. If I do, I will sand down to the raw wood and since it is pine, I will go back and dry brush directly over the sanded parts with raw umber to give the impression that it was once dark underneath.
This is what all of those layers of paint and hard work look like when you are done!
Let's do a before and after look again!

Remember that this armoire was on craigslist for $100! After about $35 in gas and less than $10 in paint, I would retail this cabinet for about $600. That's a nice profit for all of my hard work. I am definitely going to keep it though. Happy Easter and Happy Thrifting!!! XOXO the thrift addict.

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