Libby finally comes out as the sweet bunny she really is.
Wishing you more treats than tricks this Halloween!
Admittedly, the finish on the farmhouse table – which will ultimately be used as my studio desk – took much longer than anticipated. A handful of road bumps (oh, we’ll get to that!), working around the contractors and shuffling the table from room to room (it was a total guessing game: where will be the least dusty place of them all?) all played a role in making our small (funny!) project turn into a week long adventure.
But, it’s done! When we last left off, we had deconstructed the table only to reconstruct it, this time with extended aprons. After sanding (and sanding and sanding), it looked like this:
Now, the table has a medium-toned, slightly weathered wood finish:
To get the look, we applied two different stains in layers (our first time doing so, and put it on the record that we will be doing this more often!), using this tutorial – for the most part – as our inspiration.
WHAT WE DID:
ONE. Using the brush, I applied the pre-stain conditioner before laying down any color, which helps to give an overall even base for the stains. This dries relatively fast, and you can get staining right away (our can’s instructions had us wait 10 minutes).
TWO. After stirring the first stain (which you’ll want to do every couple of minutes throughout the process), Special Walnut, I put on my gloves and used a rag to apply the color.
THREE. I waited 5 minutes then wiped off any residue, waited 20 more minutes, then applied a coat of Weathered Oak. Below, you can see that the Special Walnut brought out a medium wood hue, and the Weathered Oak helped to bring down any red/orange undertones. So far, so good.
The good part only lasted so long, as I start noticing a lot of unevenness in the finish. Naturally, I panicked, called in Scott to assess my damage, and we both agreed to ask our contractor, Mike, the next day if he had any suggestions. (Mike has been restoring his hundred year old house for the last several decades, so we figured that he had to have run into a similar problem somewhere along the way!)
The following morning, I showed Mike the lighter spots, asking him, what did I do wrong? He admitted that he actually didn’t mind the look, as it shows vintage character in the table itself – but he could tell that’s not exactly the sort of patina I was going for. He continued to explain that wood as old as this – because remember, this table was made in the 1800s! – has probably soaked in all the past varnishes, even more so past the point of a weekend sanding.
He offered me two solutions: I could sand the table again (to which I laughed hysterically!), and after doing so, I could degrease it using TSP (trisodium phosphate cleaner). The TSP would lift out the lingering oils, providing a much more even finish, and I could then again start from square one (the pre-stain conditioner). While this would likely yield the best results, my tired sanding arms couldn’t even fathom doing so – however, he told me to remember that tip in the future. TSP, my friends.
Solution two: Paint the lighter spots back in. Using a small brush, I could apply stain only to the very lightest spots with the Special Walnut. Now this was more feasible, so I did so very carefully, buffing the outer edges with my rag. Mike also said to refrain from wiping the stain up – let it dry overnight, then continue with any further layering we wanted to complete. For good measure, I also applied one more layer of Special Walnut to the aprons, helping them better blend in with the table overall.
The next day (we were going on day three of the staining marathon by now), you could see a shinier sheen where I had painted in my darker stain, but my goodness. It worked! It wasn’t perfect, but the difference was night and day.
Liking the way things were going, I continued by applying 2 more coats of Weathered Oak, giving the table it’s final color:
After a handful of hours, I started with the final step: Polycrylic. By far, this is my favorite step – not only because it means we could see the finish line, but because it pulls the whole look together. Using my brush again, I applied the poly in quick, even coats, being mindful to not over brush (too much fussing will result in streaks) while working in the same direction.
The next few steps are a big time suck, but so necessary for the longevity of the desk: Wait 2 hours, then lightly sand with the extra fine sanding block. Wipe clean, then apply another coat of Polycrylic. Wait 2 hours, sand again, wipe clean again, then apply the third and final coat of the protective finish.
After the final coat of Polycrylic has been applied, it’s always good to wait at least 24 hours before handling and 3 days before putting the furniture to use. (That’s probably the hardest part of the whole process; especially for a very impatient girl like myself!)
Let me just say that I wish I could’ve photographed the end result in a different light, so to speak. The endless dust and grime covering our floors is an indication that drywall has started!, but it also means that any furniture we have out (which is very, very little) is pushed against walls and covered in dropped cloths. (After these photos were snapped, the table was ushered back to safety behind a curtain of plastic, mocking me.)
Regardless of our messy, messy floors, we couldn’t be happier with the results. There’s still a fair share of age that shines through the finish, but it’s the good kind:
The small cracks and dents were purposely left as-is (rather than sanding and filling), as we think it really shows off the history of the table. (Anyone want to give it a back story?)
You might notice that we skipped the white-wash step from the tutorial (which is why ours is still a little darker than our inspiration), but we still really love the way it turned out. We’re counting down the days remaining for the contractors’ work to wrap up (for many reasons, of course!), but once we can lift the sheets of plastic and spread out, this table’ll be the first thing to set up. Oh, yes.
And since we’ve just discovered the joys of layering stains (dork alert), we’re wondering if anyone else has been been experimenting, too? What’s your favorite combination? (Photos, please!)
Over the weekend, Scott and I got to work on making our Craigslist farmhouse table a usable, working studio desk for this girl. For now, I’m still using the same small painting table, but word on the street is that the drywall work will be finished this week (or next, maybe?), and we can start dusting ourselves off and turning rooms into spaces we’ll love – rooms we can walk into and feel a little more at ease in.
Just like our house, this table is over 100 years old (love that!), and over the last century, it’s seen its fair share of abuse; knicks and dents abound (just the right amount), but we did need to extend the longer aprons even more. Before I dive into how we made that happen, let’s jump to the end (real quick!) so you can see what I mean:
Apparently, 100-year-old tables don’t extend in the same way that modern tables do – at least not this one. Rather than the entire table pulling apart to accommodate the leaf (which was provided with the table when we picked it up), only the top pulled apart. This made for over a foot of overhang on either side, something we weren’t too excited about not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for practicality and function for its intended use.
To remedy this, we had to install new aprons on the longest widths, as well as prep it overall for the final finish while still maintaining the hunky, solid structure. We’re excited to have partnered with 3MDIY.comto test out a new-to-us product line of abrasives and safety gear (the verdict is in: 4 thumbs up!) and get this table ready.
WHAT WE DID: The tabletop rested on sliders atop the legs/aprons, so those lifted right out, and we set them to the side. After that, we could see what was going on with the original aprons, which came in at around 3 1/2′, notched into the turned legs and held in place with ancient nails. Despite the age of those nails, those suckers were in there, and not wanting to scratch the legs by prying out the nails – not to mention, we really liked the way they looked – we made it easy on ourselves by simply cutting out the aprons, leaving the notched edge still in tact.
The cuts weren’t perfect, so we sanded them down, giving us a smooth surface to attach the new aprons in place.
We picked up two 6′ lengths of pine 1x6s and cut them down to 64″ each using our compound miter saw. To get that desired length, we measured the length of the old aprons (40″) and added the width of the leaf (24″). Using our Kreg jig, we secured them in place with 2″ drywall screws in 4 pocket holes for each of the corners where they met the turned legs. For extra credit, we also added additional pocket holes on the shorter aprons – just because. (Scott is a big fan of the built Vargo tough! mentality.)
With our aprons complete, we took all 3 sections of table top, pocket holed the oblivion out of them so it was one solid piece, then slid it back onto the table base. (This also helped to pull together any gaps in-between each individual leaf.) Because the top wasn’t attached in any way, we also pocket holed the top to the base – for extra, super duper measures. (Three cheers for hidden pocket holes! Hip, hip!)
Up until that point, things went nice and smooth. Easy, even. But we knew the real beast would be sanding off the old polyurethane. It was chipped, cracked and – just like those nails – ancient. It wasn’t done very well, and although it tells a story of the table’s age, it detracted from the overall beauty.
This is when we started sanding – and sanding and sanding. We’re no strangers to dust at this point (it’s practically our 6th roommate), but I manned myself with the 3M™ respirator and safety glasses. (PS: We’ve been using the disposable respirator masks and $1 glasses throughout the majority of our demolition – but you guys! This gear was my savior throughout the entire sanding marathon. The mask is cozy [for real], the glasses don’t warp my vision [seriously], and often times, I’d forget I was wearing anything at all. Huge props to 3M for sending them our way to test out; there’s no going back to sub-par gear now.)
While I sanded, Scott tied up a few loose ends around the house (tidying cables and stuffing the ceiling with insulation along the outer walls), but every time he came into the garage to check on me, I was still sanding. Note: We used 80 grit sanding pads on our mouse sander, and we followed that up with 220 grit pads to get the finish as smooth as possible.
I sanded for the entire afternoon and into the evening, making sure to get into every nook around the legs. For those smaller details, I used 80 grit sandpaper(followed up with 120), since it was easier to do by hand.
At one point, we tested out using a stripper, which – no. The residue it left behind became more of a hassle than just using pure muscle to motor through the poly finish, so full disclosure: we stripped at one point, regretted it, then spent a few more hours whittling down the fog it left behind.
But! After one and a half days of sanding our little hearts out (because yes, the sanding continued through Sunday afternoon), we had a clean ready-for-stain table! My arms still feel like they’re vibrating, but it was worth it to see those brand new aprons match (close enough to the) tone of the rest of the table.
Because the table prep – ahem, sanding prep – took the better part of our entire weekend, I’m still finishing up the mixing of stains, so that’ll come soon! (We’re giving our best go at this look – a mix of stains for that perfectly weathered I’m-old-but-still-look-good.) Spoiler alert, though? It’s gorgeous. Add this table to our list of things-we’re-daydreaming-about – one hot table in a pretty pink room. (Dare I remind you of my green velvet chair? That’ll layer in, too. I could just scream.)
This post was brought to you in partnership with 3MDIY.com. (Opinions and tired-sanding-arms are all ours; yup, still vibrating!) To keep up-to-date on projects, products and sampling visit 3MDIY.com, and find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.
Our definition of ‘getting there’ used to be much more lighthearted. A-ha! This pillow is just what we needed for the new bedsheets! Yes, it’s definitely getting there, we’d say. Or, hey, should I move this potted succulent to a different shelf? Ooh, much better. Yup, the shelf styling is getting there.
Those were good times.
Now, ‘getting there’ means that the contractor’s have begun loading some of their tools back in their truck! Gone are the days of no longer seeing our hardwood floors, rather, we have little paths notched out by the crew at the end of the day. Walkways! Our light switches are finally at a normal height, and we can turn them on. We’re getting there!
Our last update had us breaking things down by room, but this time, let’s piece it out by project.
ELECTRIC. It’s finished! Last week we had 4 can lights in the dining room, but now we have 4 more in the living room, 2 new centered junction boxes (prior to us, the former ceiling fan was hung without a junction box – safety fail), and switches on the wall in places that make sense. (No more running through a dark room to tun on the lights!) We’ll be putting everything on dimmers; you know we love them so.
THE FOYER ARCH. After uncovering this original arch, we knew – hands down – we wanted to recreate something similar. (We didn’t want to keep that one, because we’d be widening and raising this doorway, so an imitation, so to speak, was put in the works.) Thinking it would be best to mimic the arch upstairs in the studio, our contractors built out an exact replica:
Truth be told, we saw it and said, huh. We noodled on it for days (and days!), and we still weren’t sure that we liked it. We wondered, if this was here when we moved in, would we like it? Would we have demoed it from the beginning? This question might seem a little odd since we really love the one on the second floor, but something felt… off.
We discussed it endlessly. (Which got us nowhere.) We asked for our friends’ opinions. (They loved it!) Were we unable to see past the plywood, unfinished walls and subfloor? (Yes!) Were the dark ceilings and spackled walls throwing us off? (Yes, yes, they were!)
Finally – finally – we realized that we should stick with our initial instincts. Without the arch, what would we have? A regular ol’ doorway? Big deal! We’ve had regular ol’ doorways our whole lives. This felt right; it’s different and interesting and (as my friend Julia pointed out) adds character.
Character? We’ll take it.
THE TRANSOM WINDOW. The day UPS delivered that big, fragile box, our contractors put it right up. It’s perfect. It adds height, allows more light to pass through the entryway and it’ll be extra sweet with gilded gold address numbers. The old warped siding was also fixed, new insulation installed and vinyl replaced. And see where our outdoor lights will go? For the first time since move in – well, for the first time since the original door + sidelights were taken out – they’re spaced evenly from the door frame.
THE LAUNDRY HOOK-UP. It’s happening. Our laundry room! Never have we been so thrilled to see exposed studs and drain pipes. (Never mind that we’ll need to build up the funds to purchase a washer and dryer, but just knowing that we can when we’re ready is a beautiful thing.) You might remember that this was a last minute decision on our part, but seeing it now makes us wonder we ever took it off the table. (Oh, right; money. It’s not the most affordable expense, but well worth it.)
Progress is being made, and as I hear them downstairs knocking, drilling and hammering, I can only imagine what I’ll see at the end of the day. (Truly, my heart skips a beat, and it it’s starting to feel like Christmas every time I walk down the stairs; what’s new? Was that there yesterday? OMG, is that drywall?). Scott and I have already started daydreaming about our future bathroom makeover, rugs for the studio space and should we order a new duvet cover? (Okay, those last two are all me.)
The point is this: we’re finally seeing the light. We’re allowing ourselves to think ahead and get excited again. Say it with me, we’re getting there!