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3 DIY Projects to Start Right Now

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It’s hard for me to find the right words to describe everything I'm feeling about what's happening across the globe right now. Many of us are practicing strict social distancing and spending nearly all of our personal and professional time at home. IT’S A LOT.  

If you are itching for something to do while you’re at home, I wanted to share everything I’ve learned about refinishing furniture. Take a look below and try some of these projects for yourself!

1. Paint It Black

You can paint basically anything black to instantly make it more chic and up it's cool factor. This design hack is great for all kinds of pieces: dressers, tables, chairs,  doors, trim--you get the idea! Black is a great neutral so it’s easy to work these pieces into your decor. If you want to elevate a piece of furniture you have--paint it black

The real trick to nailing this DIY staple is be selective with the pieces you paint. When it comes to painting furniture, pick pieces with great lines. The shape of your piece is really going to pop once it’s draped in a beautiful black silhouette.  

Here’s a mirror I painted black last year. I was instantly attracted to the arch and wood channeled details on the sides, but the finishing was very dated (anyone else remember 1980s bedroom sets?!).

On its own, this mirror was a pretty good thrift-score. I wasn't in love with the very yellow wood finish. It didn't flow with the other finishes in the studio. 

Thrifted Mirror in the Tiniest Studio

Before

Black Mirror Refinished in Swoon Studio

After

 

I gave the finish a light sand before applying a black matte paint using a brush. At first the paint didn't stick to the wood surface (and I freaked out!). I could have sanded it more, but instead I just kept applying coat after coat until I got the look I wanted. I picked a matte paint because I wanted a dull finish. Matte paints will not hold up well for a piece of furniture that is moved around alot (like a chair). I knew I could get away with a matte finish on something like a mirror. 

Black Mirror Process

Mirror prepped and painted. 

Black Painted Chair and Mirror

Last year I aslo spray painted a few chairs black, including this cute rattan chair with beautiful curves.  

 

2. Paint a dining chair or 4 

I love this hack so much! This is a very affordable way to score those gorgeous dining chairs you want at a fraction of the cost of buying them new. Your real expense is your time and elbow grease. In addition to saving some dollars, if you are really careful when picking out a set of second hand dining chairs, you can often score higher quality pieces than you might find in the stores today.  

When it comes to shopping for second hand dining chair sets, here are a few things you should do...

  1. Hit up your local furniture thrift shop or checkout Facebook Marketplace
  2. Look for solid wood dining chairs that are in great structural condition (try to shake them to see if they wobble). Since you’ll be refinishing them, minor nicks and scratches won’t really matter.
  3. Look for chairs with great lines. If I see a small army of spindle back chairs in dated finishes from the 70s, 80s and 90s, I have to stop myself from buying them all!

 

Dining Chairs

Before

Swoon Chairs

After

I got really lucky with the first dining set I painted. They were already painted white when I found them, so I didn't have to sand and prime them. If you skip sanding and priming your chairs, the paint might flake off over time. 

Dining Chairs

Black spindle back chairs are so popular right now, it would be easy to paint any of these sets black. As a lover of color, I highly recommend taking a little risk with color here. I had great luck with a dining set I painted last fall. 

When it comes to painting wood furniture, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. The more care and prep you do before applying paint, the better they will look/wear.
  2. Give your piece a light sand to remove the existing finish.
  3. Prime the piece before adding in the final color.
  4. If you want to use matte paint, you will need an extra coat of finish applied.
  5. Semi-gloss or high-gloss finish won’t need an additional finish applied. 

Painted Dining Chairs


3. Stain something

If you feel confident with your painting skills, you might want to try staining a piece of wood furniture. Stain is different from paint because the woodgrain will still be visible. Re-staining a piece is a much more involved and complicated process.

Here're how to get started:

    1. Fully sand your wood furniture (in the direction of the wood grain) to remove both the protective finish and the original stain.
    2. Start with a low grit sandpaper (like 80) and move up to a higher grit paper (like a 220).
    3. Work until the wood is a raw natural color. 
    4. Then, clean the surface.
    5. Use a wood conditioner before applying the stain to ensure the wood accepts the new stain evenly.
    6. Once that has dried, apply minimal amounts of stain with a cotton rag, let it sit for 10 - 15 minutes, and wipe off the access stain.
    7. Let it fully dry and then apply a second coat. You can also add a third coat if you need too.
    8. Once you are happy with the stain, apply a very thin layer of clear coat polycrylic finish with a foam brush.
    9. Let the finish dry and lightly sand it with a finishing sandpaper (320 - 400 grit).
    10. Do this 2 - 3 more times and you’ll end up with a beautiful new {vintage} piece made to stand the test of time!  
Sanded Chairs
Lightly Sanded Chapel Chairs

 Dining Chairs

Ready to start (or finish) your next DIY project? Which one of these do you plan to tackle first? Comment and let us know!

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