Today I’m thrilled to welcome Courtney from The Kitchen Garten to the blog, sharing her fantastic upcycle project. I hope you’ll be as inspired as I am by her thrifty and creative upcycling vision.
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Have you ever been on the search for a perfect piece of furniture?
In fact, you can visualize the piece when you close your eyes. But every furniture store, online site, or Craigslist listing falls short. Nothing is exactly what you’re looking for.
My quest for the perfect school table was going down this same path. Nothing was quite right. All of the tables I found were too big or too small or the wrong shape. Total first world problems; I definitely get that.
Last year when my husband subtly hinted I move our homeschool space out of our eating area and into our den, I was NOT on board. Things were where I wanted them, and switching rooms seemed like a lot of work.
Furniture was the other issue. I would need a table, since the one we were using needed to stay put so we would have somewhere to eat. Finally giving in to his suggestion, I began searching for a table we could use for school.
Craigslist, Facebook, yard sales, Wal-Mart, Target… I searched them all. Nothing fit. I knew my kids would be happy schooling on the floor, but this Mom wanted a table, so I just patiently waited.
Then it happened.
On a run with a friend one Saturday morning, we passed a neighborhood yard sale. And there it was, sitting in the driveway waiting for me.
She wasn’t pretty, but she was exactly what I’d been looking for: made from walnut with sides that folded down and three chairs (a fourth would have been nice, but at this point…).
Since I don’t usually run with cash on hand, a $25 deal was struck, and I ran home to get money and the truck. Sweet success!
The Clean Up
While the table would have been beautiful simply cleaned up, I knew I wanted a white table with fun colored chairs. Our school room has mahogany walls with white trim, so I didn’t want to add any more wood tones to it.
The time it took to paint this table and chairs was minimal: 45 minutes for each coat, with a lot of dry time between. This project can easily be painted in a day without disrupting much of your usual routine. Here’s how:
To start, I used Old English wood soap with warm water and an old towel. There were years of dirt built up, and I’m pretty sure the table and chairs had been in a shed for a few years before the yard sale.
Once I cleaned the chairs and table, I gave them a few hours to make sure everything was good and dry. If the piece you want to paint is in better condition and clean, skip this step.
While waiting for the wood to dry, prep your area for painting. Use a drop cloth, an old sheet, or newspapers (but if you’re outside these can get caught by the wind).
All of the paint I used for this project were things I had on hand. For the table, I used white trim paint leftover from our kitchen cabinets. For the chairs, I let the kids choose from my stash of spray paints in various colors. Each chair used a little less than one can for two coats.
Since I was using spray paint on the chairs, I moved away from the table while painting. I didn’t want any paint to carry over onto the white table.
For the table top especially, be sure to keep strokes going in the same direction while painting. Once the first coat is applied, wait a few hours then apply the second. Two coats give a richer look, and this allowed me to find those areas I may have missed the first time.
Once the two coats were on (this took just one day), I let them sit overnight to give the paint a chance to cure. I then used a water-based polycrylic the next day. This is optional but gives a nice sheen and more durability to surfaces. Since we were going to use this for school, I knew I wanted the surface better protected.
After a day of dry time, I brought them inside to finish setting up our new school space.
For $30 ($25 for table and chairs, and $5 for polycrylic), I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
I know I’ll eventually need one more chair, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled for another one.
Using paint that was already on hand saved me money and helped clear out some shelf space.
Never underestimate the power of a little paint to bring new life to any number of items!
So don’t get discouraged when you can’t find the exact piece of furniture you want. If you have the luxury of not being in a rush, scope out your local yard sales. Estate sales and thrift stores are also great places to grab up great furniture deals. You can paint, stain, or modify these pieces to whatever style you prefer, and still spend way less than you would have at the furniture store!
See the rest of the series:
Courtney is a southern wife, mom, gardener, and baker. With a handy husband and three little gardeners, the fun and projects just keep coming! She shares her gardening tips and recipes on her blog, The Kitchen Garten.