It’s Upcycle It! month!
We’re talking about upcycled projects all month long, and if you missed our introduction last week, you can find it here.
I hope you’re as excited as I am because I’ve got a very big confession of sorts to make (and I hope you’re in the mood for a story, because I have one of those too).
Settle Back, Get Cozy…
In all of my upcycling ventures, I have never worked with furniture!
I’ve wanted to, but I’ll be totally honest – they’ve scared and intimidated me.
I’ve heard the tales of hours and hours of sanding, waiting between dozens of coats of polyurethane, and working with intricate details.
As much as I love to see fabulous remakes that other people have done, I just didn’t see how I could afford the huge time investment.
Until the day I walked into my favorite thrift store and saw this:
Times are Changing
The poor thing was so ugly-beautiful. Do you know what I mean?
Someone had obviously tried their hand at doing something with her, but somewhere along the way she must have been abandoned, ending up amongst outdated framed prints, brashly upholstered couches, and a tangle of miscellaneous electronics.
That was her “ugly”.
But those legs and shapely curves! That was her “beautiful” part, and after making my way around the store, I went back, grabbed her up, and tucked her heavy self under my arm. I wasn’t expecting eleven pounds, but it was then that I knew I had a diamond in the rough.
And for just $10!
I brought her home and did what any person in my situation would do: I begged for help!
Messaging my fun and talented furniture-upcycling diva friend, she gave me her “pat-on-the-back, you-can-do-this” seal of approval with just a few words: “I would paint that in a heartbeat!”
I already had a plan for where she’d go. For months I had been looking for a better plant stand than an extra kitchen chair.
This little lady would be perfect!
After a little makeover, of course.
She had one loose leg, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all four came out with a little bit of effort. That would make painting a whole lot easier.
After a good sanding, I gave the top a coat of Kilz. (By the way, I used an electric sander, which is an absolute dream!) That wasn’t so bothersome, but when I painted the first leg…
Do you know what I mean? No backing out now. I held on to that vision in my head, just hoping it was going to turn out the way I wanted.
I already had an idea of the finish I wanted – faux marble – and again did what anyone in my situation would do – I appealed to Google.
I found plenty of video and tutorial posts on getting the look I was after, but this one was my very favorite.
Getting started, I set to work with my base coat – a Valspar sample of Sugar and Cream in satin finish.
Do you get those little sample jars for your smaller paint projects? They’re fantastic! Inexpensive and plenty for a small project.
That’s a Win-Win in my book!
I gave it two coats, sanding again after each one. This time I sanded by hand. It wasn’t as tedious as I had thought, especially since I had given it a very good sanding at first.
My plan was to match the hearth as closely as I could. Sugar and Cream was perfect!
After setting the legs aside, I reviewed my favorite tutorial, and decided I’d better just jump in and see what happened.
Faux Marble – The Veins
Every tutorial I read or watched used gray paint for the veins. They also used white paint.
Since I was trying to match my hearth, I took the idea and adjusted the colors. For the deepest veining, I used one of my favorite colors: Teddy Bear Tan by Folk Art, and blended it with a little water. I didn’t measure, but aimed for a 3:1 ratio of paint and water. After blending well, I was ready to jump in.
Using the tip of a feather, I made some diagonal squiggly lines with the paint/water mixture, extending over the edges and down each side.
The goal is to be somewhat random, but true marble has this diagonal pattern.
After I had enough veins, I used a dampened sea sponge to soften the lines. That made a huge difference!
Even though the hearth is dominated by golden tones, it still has shades of gray, so I did use it for smaller veining and accenting the main veins. Using a basic craft paint again, Dark Gray by Craft Smart (a Michael’s brand) I repeated the same technique with the feather.
A Veining Tip
It’s really important to keep a light hand when applying the veins. Let the feather twist and turn as you go. This produces a more natural look than if you try to guide it so much.
The sea sponge is perfect for softening up the paint and making it look like it’s actually a part of the wood – instead of just sitting on the surface.
To add a little more variation to the coloring, I used the same technique with one final color: Desert Sand by DecoArt. It added a depth that the other two colors alone didn’t have.
Finally, I used the lightest color I had picked out, Bleached Sand by Deco Art, to add some blotching. This is another tip I picked up from my favorite tutorial. I didn’t use a toothbrush as she recommends, however, but just used the end of the feather and pounced it on in random places.
After another sea sponge smear job, the top was almost finished!
Finishing the Top
Once the top was dry, I gave it a fine-grit sanding to make sure all of the paint was smooth, then gave it two coats of satin finish wipe-on poly sealer.
The legs had their two coats of Sugar and Cream paint and had been patiently waiting for their makeover too.
I applied a coat of Valspar Antiquing Glaze (Moose Mousse), then wiped it off using baby wipes, a tip I learned from this video.
I actually found this technique to be more challenging that the marble technique for the top. Probably because I haven’t worked with glaze before, but it’s definitely something I plan to perfect!
The New, Faux Marble Look
And here she is with her brand new look! What do you think?
The End of the Story
So I told you at the beginning that this was a bit of a story as well as an Upcycle tutorial.
Just as she was ugly-beautiful sitting there all ignored in the thrift store, this project was scary-thrilling for me.
I wasn’t sure I could pull it off.
I wasn’t sure that the idea I had in my head would translate to that little old, ugly-beautiful stool.
Is it perfect?
Not even close.
I still need to work on my glazing skills and the top isn’t perfectly smooth like real marble would be.
But there’s a happy ending to the story…
I gave it a try.
I had an idea in my mind’s eye and I stretched to see if I could make it happen.
And even if it isn’t perfect, it’s a big improvement over what she was before,
and I finally have that plant stand I’ve had plans for.
I hope you’ll be inspired to try a new DIY you’ve never done before. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you planned (and I’ve had plenty of those), I’m pretty sure you’ll learn a lot and you might even be happier with your project than with what you originally had in mind.
See the rest of the series:
Don’t forget that YOU can participate in the Upcycle It! series too!
We’re talking about upcycles all month long, but you can always share a pic of your upcycle project for publication right here on the blog.
Simply email your before and after pics to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with Upcycle It! Series in the subject line. You can include a description of your project if you’d like, but it isn’t necessary in order to participate. I’ll post submitted projects on the Your Gallery page.
I look forward to seeing your projects!