The previous owners of our ranch left quite a few old pieces of “garbage” behind when they moved. The night we moved into our home, I was surprised when we walked into our stables and discovered some pretty incredible old pieces that were abandoned. Used wooden fruit crates, filing cabinets, galvanized buckets and an old ranch style office chair were covered in dust. I felt like I struck gold as grabbed them and set them aside. I am a firm believer in finding the beauty in old pieces and restoring them to glory. Obviously, like most of us, we have to buy some pieces from places like Target and IKEA, but nothing compares to the beauty and craftsmanship of vintage pieces. My heart was happy at my finds!
Once we were slightly out of boxes, I was eager to restore them, especially the old ranch chair. I decided to paint it yellow to bring sunshine into my office. I am quite obsessed with serape blankets, so I asked my mom to sew some into chair pad! Thanks, Mom for the sewing! Someday I’ll finally learn!
I have discovered that as with anything else, each new restoration project comes with a few lessons, as well as a few classics if you are starting out on restorations! Here are a few furniture restoration tips:
1. Use a power sander.
Purchase or borrow a power sander, especially if you are restoring larger pieces. This will cut down your time and save your energy for the actual painting job. Removing all old paint and stain is vital to creating a beautiful finished product. Tip: Don’t do as I did and put too much pressure on the machine! Holding it lightly to the surface actually works better than pressing the sander down hard on the wood!
2. Although I recommend using a power sander for the large pieces and areas, you should still have a couple of sheets of sand paper or sanding sponges for crevices and small areas where large sanders won’t fit.
3. When it comes to sand paper grit, there is an important difference to remember! For removing old paint and stain use, I recommend using 60 to 80 grit sandpaper. Use higher grit paper, such as 120 grit for finishing touches and smoothing.
4. Not all chalk paint is created equal! Use real chalk paint, such as Annie Sloane, not “chalk paint finish”.
I was not patient enough to wait until I had a moment to drive to the closest Annie Sloane store. So I ran to Lowe’s and bought a cheaper knock off version. I paid the price for that and had to sand many layers and work harder to get the look I was going for. It doesn’t need to be Annie Sloane, but do look for a higher quality paint to save some work and heartache.
5. Invest in a Dremel.
This tool is super handy for so many projects around the ranch, let alone in restoring old pieces. Not only do these bad boys sand, but they cut off old bolts and screws in hard to reach places that other tools are unable to.
6. Most everyone knows this, but its a good reminder, when you are painting or distressing, make sure you go with the grain versus against it. In projects past (ok, so maybe last year) I have jumped right in and not paid attention to the grain. It turned out to be a Pinterest fail on a simple project! Painting with the grain will allow paint to flow more naturally and allow for a better looking final product.
7. Be patient. Patient with yourself and with the project you are working on. Can you tell I have been working on this mantra?! I was not naturally blessed with the gift of patience, which is probably why my mother still does most of my sewing projects for me (see serape pillow above!) but have learned over the years that patience is key in projects turning out nicely. To ease my lack of patience in projects, I turn on some killer tunes or an entertaining podcast and get lost in the motions. Its a fabulous creative space to be in.
8. Don’t paint tipsy. Or is it, paint tipsy… don’t sand tipsy? I don’t know, there is a lesson in here somewhere but I still haven’t figured it out. Paint tipsy but don’t be disappointed when you wake up in the morning and have to lightly sand off the extra unnecessary layers you coated on the night before. Or maybe its paint tipsy, just don’t change the paint color mid-paint? That’s probably the lesson.