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    In Which a Thinker Does Something

    March 29, 2013 by Brandy Vencel

    If left to my own devices, I’m pretty sure I’d spend most of my time inside of my own head, trying to figure out things, most of which are intangible. I have a tendency to take physical problems and solve them in my head, only to forget to do anything about it in real life because once I did it in my head, I felt like it was done.

    You have no idea how many successful small businesses I’ve designed.

    This week, I did something real. I’m not a crafty person, unless you count my attempts at writing and the occasional decorated cake. I don’t sew, and I haven’t made an afghan in almost twenty years. In the latter case, the issue is priorities. I don’t have a lot of spare time and so I spend it in the ways I prefer. It is not that I wouldn’t like to know how to sew, or to engage in the act of sewing, but if I have to trade sewing time for Latin study or writing time, I’m not willing to do it. I suppose if I already knew how to sew, that would be one thing, but the learning curve would require time I am not willing to give it at this point in my life.

    With that said, I have done furniture a few times in the past. My first project was staining the bunk beds for the boy’s room {singular boy–Son O. wasn’t born yet when I did that one}. A couple summers ago, I did something a little more challenging and redid bunk beds for the girls. This means I spent hours and hours sanding and sanding–in the hot July heat, no less. I should have lost ten pounds of water at least!

    But I didn’t.


    This past Christmas, a very generous relative gave me a “budget” as a gift and told me to use it to buy something that Si would never buy me, or never be able to buy me {at least not anytime soon}. I’ve had a list of priorities for a while: buffet for the dining room, nightstands and chest of drawers for the master bedroom, and a bigger dresser for the boys’ room.

    Since my budget was less than a thousand dollars, I’m sure you see that this list would be impossible if everything were purchased new.

    this was a wonderful dresser, but didn’t fit the room

    Right after Christmas, I set up a bunch of Craigslist search feeds {I subscribe to specific searches in order to make my shopping more efficient} and started scouring some of the local antique shops. I soon learned that I have difficult-to-find furniture needs. The buffet has to go under a window and near the dining table, so there are space restrictions in every direction–it can’t be too wide, too tall, too deep. The master bedstead is incredibly tall, so nightstands almost have to be small chests–at least 29 inches tall {which is harder to find}. And the chest of drawers was to replace a long dresser that was lovely but never fit in the room since we moved over four years ago–and it had to fit in a narrow space between two doors and yet be large enough to store both of our clothes, at least the ones normally kept in drawers.

    It started to feel impossible, but I consoled myself with the fact that we didn’t need to find lots of furniture, just one piece that fit here and one piece that fit there.

    Imagine my surprise when the Lord blessed me with a chest of drawers that fit the space and didn’t even have to be painted! It was already a beautiful Annie Sloan Louis Blue. In fact, I had seen a piece like it once before and almost bought it, but it was a greenish color {I liked it, but it didn’t match what we already had going on in the room} and it would have taken half of my budget once I had bought all of the supplies for painting it. This was cheaper and the right color.

    It is solid mahogany, by the way.

    A couple weeks later, I found a tall nightstand in an antique store for $60. This was a little more than I wanted to pay {because I knew I needed to paint it}, but since it was the first time I’d seen anything tall enough, I bought it. A week after that, I found another one that was only $25, bringing down my average price-per-nightstand.

    Here they are, in their found state:

    Wow. That looks weird. Sort of like I put the bed through a kaleidoscope!


    As you can see, they don’t match each other, nor do they really blend with the dresser. I decided to go crazy and redo them this week during our Easter break. Today is Friday. I am almost done. I should be ready to post finished shots tomorrow, but of course tomorrow is Saturday {of Easter weekend, no less!} so it might not happen until next week.

    But this is the reason for my silence around here.

    If you need me, I’m in the garage.

    Because I am an INTP, I had to do a bunch or research before taking on this task. If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I was obsessed with paint and decoupage for a couple weeks there. I watched hours of YouTube tutorials. I emailed friends for advice.

    Once I figured it out in my head, I had the ever-present temptation to go read a book instead. To me, “done” in my imagination feels a lot like “done” in real life.

    But I knew if I didn’t do it now I would probably never do it anytime soon because it’d get too hot for painting with chalk paint.

    So I done did it.

    Well, almost.

    After spending far too much time shopping for hardware, I decided I didn’t want to spend the extra money and so today I’m going to spray paint the old hardware black instead of buying new hardware.

    I couldn’t find anything that I loved {in my price range} anyhow. And, of course, I still have a buffet to buy!

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  • Reply Trisha April 2, 2013 at 4:38 am

    Please forgive the delay in my response. This is my fourth attempt to reply. πŸ™

    I used a primer/paint combo on our oak cabinets, painting them a cream color for a cottage look. Our cabinets are not well made, but we can’t afford to replace them, so this was an inexpensive way to update a bit. We have an island, too, and part of it is made of particle board. I was able to use the paint just fine on those, too. Going from a darker to a lighter color has taken about three coats, even with the primer. Let me know if I can answer any other questions.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 2, 2013 at 4:40 am

      Trisha, I am so sorry about the comments! I hear this is a “known issue” for Blogger. Do you have problems on your blog? πŸ™

  • Reply Trisha March 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Love the new dresser, Brandy, and look forward to seeing your finished work on the nightstands. I’m almost done painting our kitchen cabinets–so glad it’s close to over. The results are awesome, but only being able to paint 2-4 hours at a time made it seem like the process took forever.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 29, 2013 at 7:31 pm

      I look forward to seeing your finished product, Trisha!

      Yes, I bet limited time is *especially* hard during a large project like that! My husband wants to paint the house {inside walls} soon and I have mixed emotions about it for exactly that reason…but oh, won’t it look lovely when it is finished. πŸ™‚

    • Reply Carrie March 30, 2013 at 2:22 am

      Trisha, I’d love to hear how you went about the cabinet painting. I’ll need to touch up my black island very soon from the nicks and chips (not originally black but painted for us). Thanks for letting me stalk your thread πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy Vencel March 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I have a secret.

    Because I wanted to paint my pieces black, I chose to use chalkboard paint by Rustoleum, which was $10 for 30 oz., rather than Annie Sloan {whose black I’ve read is not a “true” black} that goes for almost $50/qt. here in town. I *looks* like chalk paint–and chalkboard paint basically IS chalk pain–and I just waxed it with Miniwax Finishing Wax Paste. It came out great, but for a fraction of the cost!

    If you really want to try Annie Sloan, it is really expensive but very pretty! However, there are homemade chalk paint recipes out there that you can make very cheaply if you are concerned {as I was} about the cost.

    I just love working with paint that doesn’t require such extensive prep work!

    • Reply Carrie March 30, 2013 at 2:18 am

      Oh, thank you for the tip! I’m all for saving money especially since I’ve never painted a piece of furniture before (and have read many horror story posts about what could go wrong!)

  • Reply Carrie March 29, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    I’ve got to try some of the Annie Sloan paint! I’ll be on the prowl for furniture to replace our master set. Good thing I don’t mind mismatched pieces πŸ™‚

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