1950’s Tanker Desk Redesign

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Ahhhhh. The sweet, sweet smell of victory. That glorious feeling when you’re able to transform something from this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

From before.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To after.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

My biggest challenge on this piece was its massive size – this beast measures 29″ tall x 50″ wide x 26″ deep. I started with lots and lots of wood filler on spots like this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Then I opened my first ever can of General Finishes paint. Cue the singing angels because I’m a believer. I have drank the Kool-Aid. And I am here to testify. All the hype you hear about General Finishes paint is totally true. (This isn’t a sponsored post – I don’t really do that sort of thing – I was just really impressed with this product.)

I used General Finishes Persian Blue on the body of the desk and their Java Gel Stain on the drawers and legs. I am in love with the color combo.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I topped everything off with several coats of Varathane Crystal Clear Polyurethane in Satin for a protective finish.

The final jewel in the crown was some sparkly, metallic gold hardware. This is my new favorite product for the perfect color. I found it at Michael’s.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I added a few coats to the original drawer pulls and voila!

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

This project went so much smoother than the last couple I shared here and here – thank goodness. It’s nice to see I’m at least learning something from all those mistakes.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

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Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

(UPDATE: This coral beauty is FOR SALE in the Chicagoland area. Contact me if you’re interested.)

I’m not gonna lie friends. This one was a struggle.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen each painful step, starting with the wood stain.

The first attempt was streaky. I didn’t know why but thought it must be because I didn’t strip the old finish thoroughly.
So I started over.

The second attempt was spotty because after stripping the old finish I didn’t clean off the stripper residue completely. (Read more about that HERE.)
So I started over.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

The third attempt was streaky because I didn’t know I was dealing with a soft wood and needed to use a pre-stain wood conditioner. (Looking back I realized this was really the problem with my first attempt.)
So I started over.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Finally, on the fourth attempt, the planets aligned, the clouds parted and the wood-staining gods smiled down upon me. Success at long last.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Next was paint. I used this DIY chalk paint recipe with Valspar’s Amber Rose color. I’m happy to report that the paint went on with no problems! The color was perfect and the chalk paint was as amazing as everyone claims. I finished it off with a couple coats of SC Johnson Paste wax – stinky but effective. (If you’re trying to compare expensive Annie Sloan Chalk Paint with the more economical DIY versions I highly recommend you read this post from Diane at In My Own Style. So much valuable information!)

All that was left was to pick out some shiny gold hardware and she would be done! Easy squeezy, right?

Wrong.

You guys I couldn’t find anything to fit the holes. I tried everywhere I could think of. Internet, retail, antique shops, referrals from friends – nothing. There were a couple that were the right size but completely wrong for the age and style of the piece. And a couple of others that might have worked but they were around $30 each. Not for this thrifty chick.

I considered drilling new holes but even if I used a stainable wood filler the old holes would be obvious. And ugly. The only way to completely cover them would be to . . .

paint

the

drawers.

The same drawers that I just cried and agonized over for weeks. That I stripped, stained, and sealed four times.

I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t. There had to be a better way.

So I wiped the slate clean and started my search over again, hoping something new and different would pop up this time. First stop: Lowe’s.

I walked to the same jumbled wall of handles and knobs I had looked through before and THERE IT WAS! Not a perfect fit but a contender that, with a little spray paint and strategic placement, might finish off my coral queen.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

It was super, super close but they work! Here’s the trick: they don’t match the existing holes in the drawers but instead, cover them (with not a millimeter to spare). Yes, we did have to drill into my newly refinished wood to install them. And yes, it did totally stress me out. But the result is 100% worth it. You can’t see the original holes at all and I love the way the finished pulls look. Their simple style and rounded edges compliment the details of the piece perfectly.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.comI fought hard for this dresser and I could not be more pleased with how it turned out. It was my first adventure with chalk paint and my first time using the color coral. I will definitely use them both again.

I should mention that this beauty is for sale so if you’re in the Chicagoland area and are looking for a pop of feminine color in your space, we should chat.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons

Hello friends. Before I dive into this Mid-Century love fest I want to chat briefly about my posting schedule. I decided to tackle some new projects this year and they’re taking longer than I expected (you’ll see one example in this post). As a result the blogging side of things has slowed down. A lot. Hopefully it will pick up again as I learn more and can work faster. Until then, I’m still sharing, just less often.

Now that that’s out of the way, get a load of this.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

I. Can’t. Even.

The Mid-Century Modern lover in me wants to whisper inappropriate things to it over cocktails in a dark, smoky bar.

Sure, it’s got a broken leg – a new one has been ordered and will be here soon – but it’s still so damn sexy I just couldn’t wait any longer to share.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

So for now we’ll do some cropping to hide the “stump” and show off the gorgeous legs it does have.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

You might also notice there’s no fancy staging or styling – the paint job on the wall isn’t even done. That’s because this room is (eternally) under construction. This dresser and another one I plan to share soon are the only finished things in the space. Gotta start somewhere.

THE STORY

You can probably guess from the title of this post that the refinishing process did not go smoothly. I’ll start at the beginning with this not-so-exciting “before” shot.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Not in bad shape but there were some scratches and dings that needed attention. Worst of all, this ugly laminate top.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

So I started by stripping the drawers with Citristrip. Then I hit them with a few coats of General Finishes Java Gel Stain. Everything looked beautiful so I finished them off with General Finishes Gel Topcoat, patted myself on the back, and went to bed.

The next morning I found this on all nine drawers.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

What the what? What happened? And more importantly, how do I fix it?

THE INVESTIGATION

I asked everyone I knew. Instagram friends. Facebook family. General Finishes customer support. Everyone. In the end no one was exactly sure why it happened but most seemed to agree on the solution: re-strip, re-sand, and re-stain.

But I wasn’t convinced. Repeating the same steps and expecting different results seemed ridiculous. I wanted to find out what actually caused the spots so I decided to do more investigating.

My plan was simple: Follow the same exact steps but on a different dresser. If the spots appear again then I know it’s something I’m doing. If not, then it must be something on the wood. Maybe a spill or splatter from the previous owner?

Here are the discouraging results.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

It’s a different kind of wood so it doesn’t look the same but there are definitely spots.

So what the bleepity-bleep was I doing wrong? I had just finished another dresser last week using the same products and it turned out beautifully – no spots, no problems, no drama. Why was I having so much trouble now?

Then I remembered something! I had done one tiny thing differently on that spot-free dresser from last week: I used a liquid deglosser to remove the paint stripper residue. On the spotty dressers I used a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water that I had on hand. If that mix wasn’t strong enough to completely clean off the thick, waxy stripping goo it could prevent the stain from soaking into the wood evenly, which would result in spots. Mystery solved!

THE LESSON

The Citristrip label clearly states, “use a paint stripper wash or odorless mineral spirits to loosen remaining residue”.

I used something else and it was an epic fail.

So today’s furniture refinishing lesson is: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PRODUCTS YOU’RE USING.

It’s so simple that it’s embarrassing. Let’s move on.

THE HOME STRETCH

Now that I knew what to do – and what not to do – it was time to finish this thing up. I scrubbed everything down with a Scotch-Brite scour pad and deglosser, then sanded and stained. The top coat went on beautifully with no spots to be seen. Success!

With the drawers finally done it was time to tackle the dresser frame. I started with a light sanding, followed by a coat of Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer (my go-to product for laminate surfaces). Lastly, a few coats of Benjamin Moore Cloud White and it was done!

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

I’m not gonna lie. This one was slow and painful and aggravating. But I definitely learned from it and I absolutely LOVE the results. Now I’m just waiting on that leg to show up in the mail so I can officially call it finished.

Have you conquered any painful projects lately? Was the challenge due to a simple mistake like mine? Or something more complicated?

A is for Aquarium Stand: A-Z Blog Challenge

Santa brought my daughter a lizard for Christmas last year. It lives in a 50-gallon aquarium tank in my living room. Did you hear me? I said there’s a 4-foot freakin’ glass box sitting in my living room. With a lizard in it.

My challenges:
1. Find a piece of furniture that makes this tank look good incredible.
2. Make it look like it belongs in the room/fits with my decor.
3. Incorporate storage to hide things like live crickets and freeze-dried crickets grasshoppers.
4. As always, do it for cheap.

I searched high-and-low for traditional aquarium stands that fit these criteria. All the options were either too ugly or too expensive. So I turned to my good friend, the Salvation Army. It was there I found this lovely for $60.

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

Perfect. I knew as soon as I saw it. And yes, I realize it’s a china hutch, not an aquarium stand. After a lot of demo, sanding, sweating, and painting it was transformed into this.

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

Beautiful, yes? I included a couple close-ups of the distressing since you can’t see it very well in the other shots. My favorite part is the faux stainless steel base/stand that, ironically enough, matches the base of the china hutch in my dining room. Confession: I’m not in love with the feathers on the doors but I can’t make up my mind what else to do. Those flat panels are screaming for a painted pattern of some sort but there are so many great options, I just can’t decide. Here are some of my favorite inspiration pieces.

A is for aquarium stand

A is for aquarium stand

A is for aquarium standA is for aquarium stand
In the end I want the doors to make a statement, but not a “high-five you in the face with a hammer” statement. I’ll be sure to post an update if I ever make a decision. Of course your ideas and suggestions are welcome.

This post is the first in a series of 26 inspired by the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Click over and see all the amazing bloggers working their way through the alphabet in April.

Phone Bench Before & After

This is one of my favorite projects. I bought the piece at a garage sale for $7 even though I had no idea what it was. I just liked it. Later, my aunt told me it was a telephone bench from the days when telephones didn’t fit in our pockets.

phone bench before

A few coats of paint (left over from another project), a scrap of plywood cut by my DH, a piece of foam, and a bit of fabric from my remnant stash . . . TADA!

phone bench after

Since learning it was a phone bench I’ve set it up as a charging station for the family’s cell phones. Beautiful and functional. Does it get any better?

Now it’s your turn. Write a comment and include a picture of your latest DIY masterpiece. No project is too big or too small as long as you made it, or remade it.