In the spirit of practicing my home improvement skills before it actually matters, I’ve rehabilitated our old nightstands! As with the kitchen bar cart, the rule was I could only use what we already had in the Garage of Wonders, making these essentially free projects. I knew I didn’t necessarily have a purpose in mind for these two end tables, and I didn’t particularly care if I messed them up. So my goal here was to make them pretty and then sell them on Craigslist.
I’m planning to use an antique finish technique on our kitchen table when I eventually get around to it, so I decided to practice that technique on the end tables. Before I explain the technique, take a look at the results.
I know right? I’m getting so much better at house blog photography! Oh, and the table looks cute too. I believe this look is known by trendy Pinteresters as “”””shabby chic””””.
Overall I think I went a little too heavy-handed with the antique finish, so I scaled it back for the next one, the night stand that used to be in our guest room. Here’s how it turned out.
It’s a little more understated, and I think the sage green paint works a little better than the white for this method. I also like how the wood grain is visible. Anyway, here’s the very basic instructions for how to get this effect with nothing but an orbital sander, paint of any color, and stain of any color:
- Sand the bejeezus out of every part of the wood, even those hard to reach little nooks and crannies.
- Paint it with your chosen paint color. Don’t worry too much about drips or uneven brush strokes.
- Wait for the paint to dry, then sand it again. You’ll want to judge for yourself how much of the paint you want to sand off, but in general just don’t hold the sander in any one spot for too long, and definitely don’t press down too hard.
- Rub stain in and immediately wipe away with a clean cloth. You want the stain to soak into the bare bits of wood you’ve just exposed with the sander and to collect in the nooks and crannies, but over the painted surfaces it should just leave the barest residue.
- Let it dry!
Drying times aside, this is an hour long project for something as small as these end tables. You can also mix it up like I did with the first table, and try pairing the antiquing technique with just straight staining on different parts of the piece. You might also consider sealing the whole thing with a wax sealant or a varnish if it’s going to get handled frequently (like kitchen cabinets or a dresser).
Oh and the best part? I’ve already sold one on Craigslist. Not bad for a free project that took me an hour!
Two things. First, remember how I wanted to increase Casa Fickbonne’s curb appeal from Recently Condemned Crackhouse status to Resembles a Habitable Domicile? And remember how I wanted to practice my carpentry skills on small stuff before tackling larger projects? You do? Ok great.
Now that we’re all on the same page… I made a thing!
It is a dual house number placard and flower planter, and it mounts on the front of my house. It was inspired by Etsy crafter Chesneys and it doesn’t technically have a name, but I built it and it looks just grand. See?
Now that’s craftsmanship. I built it mostly in an afternoon, but had to come back to it over the course of two days while I waited for the varnish to dry and changed my mind twice about how I wanted to mount it. But all told it was maybe two hours of labor for a moderately skilled carpenter.
HOW I DID IT
- some scrap wood we had lying around the Garage of Miracles
- Minwax wood stain in Red Oak
- spar varnish for weather proofing
- some screws of varying lengths and sizes
- wood glue
- house numbers
- also a miter saw, orbital sander, clamps, measuring tape, drill, screwdriver, level, pencil, and all the other tools house bloggers have on hand and never mention in the list of materials
- First I cut all my wood to length and sanded it down to make it look rounded and antiquey. The backboard is made up of two even pieces of scrap wood I didn’t bother measuring. The flower box is 7″x3″.
- Next I attached the two backboard pieces by screwing a third board to the back of them both. This will also serve as the mounting board.
- Then I glued and screwed the flower box in place. The front board of the flower box is the only piece that is connected entirely with glue. Let’s hope it holds.
- I drilled a hole in the bottom of the flower box for drainage, because I intend this sucker to hold real live plants!
- I stained the whole shebang Red Oak to match the window boxes I made this summer.
- After the stain dried (about one hour) I applied the first coat of spar varnish. Then I let it sit for about 24 hours before applying the second coat. My recommendation with this stuff is to put it on thin and apply multiple coats no matter how long it takes to dry. Otherwise you end up with gloopy bumps. And nobody likes gloopy bumps.
- After another 24 hours I screwed the house numbers in place. I wish I could say I measured precisely to get them even, but, well… I just kind of eyeballed it.
- Flipped ‘er over and screwed on the mounting hardware. Then removed it and replaced it with different mounting hardware. Then removed that and replaced it with the first set of mounting hardware. YOU MUST COMPLETE THIS STEP IN ITS ENTIRETY LEST YOU RISK MOCKING THE UNIVERSE WITH YOUR HUBRIS.
- Mounted it on the front of the house with much measuring and swearing.
- I lined the flower box with landscape fabric and nestled in some adorable succulents and soil.
Instant curb appeal. And also now people can find my house when I give them directions like “It’s the one that looks like a meth den except for the gorgeous woodwork on the front porch.” See what I mean?
In other news, we had our first frost of the season! So I covered what’s left of the garden in bedsheets to keep them nice and toasty and producing fruit for a few more weeks. Also, Craig (of bathroom remodel fame) caught some trout and gifted me with the guts. I just buried them deep in the garden beds, where they’ll spend the winter decomposing and filling the soil with all kinds of exciting nutrients to feed next year’s crops.