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I have always been inspired by vintage furniture and pieces, especially because every time I see one, I think about the story that it could tell. I admire the details, the materials that make it up, and their individuality. One of my favorite things to do is visit second hand shops and garage sales just to look for pieces of furniture like this. However, I’ve never felt confident enough to take on the task of giving them a makeover. Most vintage pieces need some help to make them beautiful again but I never saw myself as the girl for the job.
But that was before I found the perfect thing to help me take on these projects- Decoart’s Americana Decor Decor Chalky Finish paint. Because they don’t require sanding or prepping, the most intimidating part of upcycling pieces was out of the way! Plus, they have beautiful color choices and I love the variety of varnishes and finishes that are available.
For my very first makeover, I knew the exact piece of furniture I wanted to use. This beautiful cabinet had been sitting in the corner of our garage for five years, collecting dust and storing some random jars. Every time I walked by, I admired the details and thought, “If only someone would paint that and show it some love, it would be beautiful!” I’m so happy that someone was me!
This piece belonged to my husband’s grandmother. She had received a set of sturdy oak furniture from her husband for their wedding. We called her “Oma”. She was a very special lady herself, as unique and sturdy as the furniture she was given. In the 1940’s, she opened a music store here in the Salt Lake Valley. At that time, it was nearly unheard of for a woman to open her own business. But she did it, along with her husband. They had only been married a week at the store’s opening.
Oma was a hard worker and never one to quit. She loved people and served everyone with love and thoughtfulness. Her favorite thing to do was to be surrounded with her family, listening to music or discussing the latest book she read (she was a voracious reader!). And she was a fighter. At 97, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her nasal passage. Because of her age, there really was not much the doctors could do for her which meant she was facing a tough battle. The tumor grew steadily over the next year and half, but it never stopped her. She continued to perform her daily leg exercises, make phone calls to friends and family, write notes and birthday cards, read books, teach, and perform acts of service in her own way, all from the confines of her bed. The tumor finally took her life at 98 and half years old. She never quit, never complained of pain, and remained our sweet, loving Oma until the very end.
The legacy that she has left behind is staggering. The music store she started in 1946 is still in business, run by my father-in-law, husband, and his brother. Next year, it will turn 70, the very same year that Oma would have turned 100. In addition to the store, Oma’s legacy of love, faith, and endurance will survive generations.
And that’s why I love this piece of furniture so much. It’s sturdy, unique, a little worse for the wear in places, but it has stood for over 50 years and served in whatever capacity it found itself. Even if that meant sitting in the corner of a garage, covered in dust and cobwebs, holding canisters and jars. I honestly feel guilty that we kept it there for so long.
Thank goodness for this chalk paint and its ability to revive beautiful furniture with stories to tell! I also love that the two paints I used describe the story of this furniture and our Oma. The blue is called “Legacy” and the white is “Everlasting”. Put them together and you get an “Everlasting Legacy”…
It couldn’t have been easier to use. Here are the steps I took, along with some tips.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR PAINTING WITH CHALK PAINT
1. Clean it up! This poor thing was dusty and even had remnants of dead spiders and webs in cracks and holes. It was gross but had to be done! I cleaned the cabinet outside because it would have made an even bigger mess in the house. Once it was clean, I brought it inside and set it on top of a dropcloth in our kitchen. I didn’t want to deal with wind, dirt, bugs, and leaves.
2. Remove hardware, including hinges, and put them in a plastic baggy. If you have little ones like I do, be sure to keep it up and away from their curious eyes. My boys love to play with screws and think anything shiny is a treasure!
3. Use a nice brush. The great thing about chalk paint is that it is very forgiving and easy to use. However, using a nice brush did make a difference. I started painting with a cheaper one and the strokes and amount of paint it held were poor in comparison with a painter’s brush. The brush I had is the same one we used when painting our walls.
4. Use nice long strokes. This was also something I learned in the process. At first, my strokes were smaller. It could be because I was using a smaller, cheap brush, but it took much longer to paint.
5. Catch the rollover! When painting around corners, always make sure to grab any paint that drips over the other side and smooth it out. If you miss it, you can always sand it down later but it’s much easier to catch it before it dries. The chalk paint does dry quickly so keep that in mind.
6. Don’t go over an area repeatedly with brush strokes. Lay down the paint and smooth it out but don’t continuously brush over it until you are applying another layer. This was a little tip my husband taught me and it removed some frustrations for me.
7. Once the piece was painted, I chose to stencil the top. I found a beautiful “distressed harlequin” stencil, also from Decoart, that fit the piece perfectly. I used painter’s tape to hold my stencil down and a foam pouncer to apply the white paint, “Everlasting”. After I completed one section of the stencil, I removed it and allowed it to dry before adding another section. Because the paint dries quickly, this didn’t take long. When I got to the end of the section I was stenciling, I used the painter’s tape to block off the part of the stencil that I didn’t want used.
8. To complete the piece and act some extra endurance, I chose the Soft Touch Varnish. Using the same painter’s brush, I used broad, even strokes and applied two layers. If you do plan to add more layers, be sure to allow each layer to dry 1-2 hours.
9. Because some of the original hardware was missing, I did add some new pieces. I love the white distressed handles-they really complete the look!
From start to finish, I was able to makeover our family heirloom in about 4 hours. It now has been transformed from a forgotten storage piece in our garage to a unique treasure that resides in our living room, a testament to the endurance and legacy of our beloved Oma.
We fittingly topped it with pictures of Oma, music, and one of the things she loved to tell us grandchildren, “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!”. While Oma is no longer with us, we are so grateful for her legacy and the memories that will never be forgotten.