Sunday, June 8, 2014

Painted Buffet/Hutch

Sometimes I get ideas.  Sometimes, when I get ideas, I'm like a freight train barreling down the tracks that can't be stopped.  If I decide that something needs to happen, I forget to eat, and sometimes have a hard time sleeping until I'm finished.  Yeah, I know, crazy.  In a way, this was one of those projects.

Our kitchen does not have tons of storage space, and so I had been thinking of a way to add storage for a while.  I thought about adding cabinets in the dining room, making a closet somewhere into a pantry, and even gutting the whole kitchen.  Luckily gutting the whole kitchen didn't put me on the freight train.  I can just picture my husband coming home to a half-demolished kitchen, and me covered in dust trying to explain how I came to the conclusion that this was a good idea, and we might have to eat out for a while... Anyway, I realized that we had space for a freestanding piece of furniture, and that by painting it white, it could go nicely with the rest of our kitchen.  

Then, this popped up on the Lancaster Habitat Restore's Facebook page:
(Photo borrowed from Lancaster Habitat for Humanity Restore's Facebook Page)

Now, let me just explain why this project was one of those 'freight train' types.  I work at a power plant which in the fall of every year requires me to work a long, tiring schedule for a few weeks.  It means 60-hour weeks (minimum), and I usually take the afternoon or overnight shift.  Things other than work usually just don't get done during this time, at least not by me.  However, this year, I committed to doing two more things in the fall, both of which were great opportunities: training to run a 10k, and serving on a committee which was searching for a new pastor for our church.  

But this hutch was going to fit perfectly in our kitchen.  So rather than let the fact that my schedule did not physically allow me to go to the Restore serve as a sign (freight train warning flag #1), I begged my hubby to pick it up for me.  And then when I couldn't handle lifting the thing to get it out of his truck, my hubby called a friend to help him lift it out (seriously, how awesome is my hubby?!).

So, once it was in the garage, I removed the doors and hardware, took out the drawers, and sanded down everything to take off the finish(except the doors to the upper piece, which I knew early on I was going to leave off).  So here you go, the official 'before' pictures, and our messy garage:

Taking off the finish is an important step, and I even do this regardless of what the primer can says it can prime.  There is nothing worse than your hard work flaking off later.   Once the finish is removed, clean the dust off with something that will not put a layer of wax on there- even just a rag with a little water is probably ok.  

So, then the fun part started- we hauled the furniture upstairs, because it was getting cold in the garage, and I also didn't want any dust to stick to the paint.

Since I was painting the inside of the shelving a different color, I taped off the very front (I'm not sure why I took this picture with one piece of painter's tape on there, but you get the idea, right?) and got to work.  

Now, thanks to my schedule, painting this took weeks (or at least it felt like weeks).  The hard part of working night shift is deciding what to do on your day off.  I am not great at changing my sleep schedule, and so this left me wide awake at 3 in the morning with no one to talk to.  Luckily(I guess?), I had furniture to paint and pastor research to do!  I distinctly remember painting this hutch while listening to sermon after sermon (sign you are on a freight train #2).  That might be the oddest situation for sermon-listening that I have had; I wonder what those men would say if I told them, "well, I listened to your sermon on Exodus at 3 in the morning while painting furniture, and I thought...".  Anyway, I finally finished painting the base, top shelves, and drawers.  In case you are wondering, I used an off-white color (Behr's Swiss Coffee) for the outside, and a gray color (Behr's Pewter Mug) for the inside.  The drawers and inside the cabinet are also grey.  Finally I painted the hardware with metallic spray paint.  This looks fine, but I think next time I will try the rub-on metallic leaf stuff.

Here it is, all finished:

Then, you are free to decorate with your nifty canisters, cookbooks, and favorite Virginia Tech cookie jar...

A few tips if you are looking to do this yourself:

-Test your color choice.  For large pieces of furniture, consider buying paint samples, and painting a piece of poster board, then put it in the room in which you are planning to put your furniture.  Look at it in the morning, mid-day, and evening with your lights on so that you can see what the color really looks like in the room.  The last thing you want to do it spend countless hours painting your furniture, then just have to live with (but not love) the color. 

-Buy the best paint you can afford.  I don't mean buy some paint with a designer label on it, I just mean pay for a little extra for quality if you can.  I had a very thrifty friend give me this advice, and believe me, when a friend so thrifty that he watches TV by a homemade antenna tells you to spend money, you listen.  I have personal experience with the pain of buying cheap paint (i.e. walls painted in a bold color that cannot be cleaned without the paint coming off), and it's just not worth it when you end up having to repaint something a few years later.  In this case I primed, then painted this with Behr premium stain blocking paint + primer, then put a clear poly coat on top. This has worked really well.

-Have the patience to do it right.  Sometimes, when you are riding your freight train off into the distant land of completed projects, you try to rush the trip.  I need to remind myself that it's better to have it done right than have it done in next 5 minutes.  Make sure your coats of paint are thin enough so that it doesn't drip.  Put on enough coats of paint.  Let the paint dry between coats.  Do NOT put doors, drawers and hardware back on until the paint is really dry (If you can wait a few days, do it).  

This was a really fun project, and it definitely saved a lot of money over buying something new!  If you are local to Lancaster, I highly recommend checking out the Habitat Restore, or somewhere similar.  They post a lot of their stuff on their Facebook page, so it's easy to be on the lookout for the right piece! 

Total cost for this project: about $200
Total hours: 30+

Hope you can enjoy making some old pieces into something of your own!