Turns out, this furniture makeover took me far longer than I hoped. Alas, the job is done! I have finally completed the furniture makeover I have been most excited about: my dining room hutch. I went rogue, to boot, and painted it blue — Annie Sloan’s Napoleonic Blue, to be exact. Why would I do that, you ask? WHY NOT?! Who said furniture has to conform to conventionality in the color department? Not me! I’m over that era of my life.
I have to admit, I made an amateur move (or maybe I was just so eager to get started) and I forgot to take a before pic of the cabinet. Here it is in the background of my table. You can see it in all its piney glory. Maybe I should say “pining glory” because this thing was pining away for a facelift and some color.One thing I failed to recognize going in, silly me, was the amount of “stuff” that had to be removed. Hardware, hinges, door catches, shelving, glass inserts, drawers. Oh. My. Goodness. Sure, I could have left it intact and slapped some paint over everything, like many chalk painters do. But oh no . . . not this overachiever.
Did I also mention that I had this bright idea to paint the interior of the cabinet a lighter, different color, then apply a color wash over it? Couple that with the fact that I chose to put a really dark color over pine, inviting another dilemma: Pine is known to cause bleed through. What does that mean, you ask? It means that the tannins in the wood (particularly in the knots) will bleed through the paint if the surface isn’t primed.
So much for making this an easy project! Sure, you can skip the primer and risk bleedthrough, but fixing it is not fun when you are midway through the project. Trust me, I have experience with this. Save yourself the trouble and prime if you are using a wood that will have a bleed through issue. It’s not as much of an issue when using dark-colored paint, but I wasn’t taking any chances. One weekend spent applying two coats of primer — gone.
By the way, tons of people will recommend shellac for priming, but I find the odor offensive, particularly with a toddler in the house. I used Artisan Enhancements Clear Topcoat Sealer as a primer. No, I’m not being paid to say that on their behalf, just passing on some info to you, my friends. Now, on to the good stuff!
My plan of attack was to get the inside of the hutch finished FIRST. My clutz tendencies have escalated since having my daughter two years ago, and all I could think about was smacking the outside of my perfectly painted BLUE hutch with the lighter colored paint brush on the way in. (Digression: I have had the same dinnerware for 14 years, unscathed. In the last 6 months, I singlehandedly managed to break, crack, or chip at least 6 pieces . . . I lost count.) It happens, so I wanted to avoid that.
For the interior, I used Annie Sloan French Linen as my base. This is the same color I used for my dining room table makeover and I love it. It’s sort of a taupe gray color. After applying three diluted coats of French Linen (75% paint to 25% water), I applied a heavily diluted (25% paint, 75% water) Paris Grey wash. You can see from the pictures there are different tones showing through on the interior — that’s the fun of the color wash.
One important note: In my experience, it is critical you allow the base coat to fully dry for 24 hours before applying a wash. You don’t want to wipe back a wash on a base coat that has not fully dried unless, of course, you want to pull off some of your base coat off. (Read: More work.)
One other (obvious) thing I feel the need to discuss is the fact that I did not tape off the mirrored interior. Kids, please don’t try this at home. It was annoying scraping off all that paint in the end. I chose not to tape off because I was super anxious to get started and I didn’t feel like investing the time in taping off. To be honest, I probably spent the same amount of time scraping as I would have taping off, it just became increasingly annoying as I did it.
After I was satisfied with
the kinks in my neck my work on the interior, I moved on to finishing the exterior. Again, I used a dilution rate of 25% water to 75% paint because I wanted a super smooth appearance. This will give you an idea of what that dilution rate will produce after two coats have been applied. Doesn’t look so bad, huh?
Take a closer look below. This is a better image of reality. At this point, the color was really pretty, but a little too “royal” for me. Plus, you can see brush strokes and areas where there is less paint.
This is largely due to the dilution, but remember: I wanted a smooth finish free of brush strokes, so I was happy to apply an additional coat or two to achieve deeper color saturation and evenness. I dug in and applied a third (still diluted) coat. Here’s what three coats looks like on the top piece.
This was the look and shade that I was hoping for. Three coats did the trick, resulting in a deeper blue color. I finished off the rest of my pieces with a final third coat. Then came the tough question: To wax or not to wax?
If you’ve never worked with the Annie Sloan wax, you should know that it requires a lot of elbow grease and finesse to get this stuff on efficiently and RIGHT. People that use it frequently will tell you it is really easy to use and apply. True. It is easy to use and apply, but there is an art to it. You really have to be cautious about over-applying the wax, otherwise, you end up with a hot mess. Many people will also tell you that you really only have to use one or two coats of wax to get a durable finish. What these people will not always tell you are these important facts:
- It is a pain in the neck to wax a large piece with nooks and crannies.
- Wiping back the wax in the nooks and crannies is almost impossible to do well.
- You are probably going to have to reapply the wax in the next 12 months to get that same finish.
- There are other top coats you can use that are more durable than wax.
- You have to wait as many as 45 days (depending on your climate) for the wax to fully cure. Who has that kind of time to sit around and wait before putting everything back in its place?
To be honest, waxing is kind of fun, but it is an art. Practice makes perfect and the wax technique does get better the more you do it. Frankly, I have zero interest in taking everything out of my cabinet in a year and reapplying wax. None. So guess what I busted out? The same Artisan Enhancements Clear Topcoat Sealer that I used to prime my cabinet. It is one of a few products that can be used directly on top of chalk paint as a top coat. However, it is not recommended that it be used on white chalk paint due to the fact that it is soy based and may result in a yellowish tint when applied on top of white paint.
I used an inexpensive chip brush (a sponge brush works well, too) and applied a very thin layer of top coat to the hutch. You really have to apply it very sparingly or it will be sticky for days on end and just a hot mess. It’s much easier and less time-consuming than the wax is. The best part is that it only takes three, count them, THREE, days to fully cure. Score! It also provides a harder finish. Score, again! Super important when you have a toddler in the house riding her tricycle into any and everything!
I applied three coats over the course of three days (allowing each coat to dry for 24 hours). Then I allowed it to cure and set for another three days. Total time invested in the final finish: Six days! Beats the heck out of the 48 days I would have invested waxing and waiting for the wax to cure. Not to mention having to go back and reapply wax in a year. No, thank you.
Caveat: You won’t get the same sheen from the Artisan Enhancements Clear Topcoat Sealer as you would from using the wax. The Artisan Enhancements product is more of a satin finish — still shiny, but not a high gloss. If you use the Annie Sloan wax, you can buff the wax to as high a sheen as you’d like. If you are a high-sheen kind of person, I would definitely recommend using the wax over the Artisan Enhancements product.
End result: One happily made-over dining room hutch in a super fun color! I planned on buying new hardware, but it turns out the existing hardware looked pretty great to my eyes once it was all done. Total money invested: $35 for one quart of paint. Beats the heck out of buying a new hutch, no?
When I finish decorating my dining room and putting it all back together, I’ll be sure and post some before-and-after pics and show you how the dining room table and chairs look with the blue hutch. Until then, I’m on the hunt for my next chalk paint victim . . . a piece for my entryway.
How about you? Have any fun chalk painting or furniture painting tips? How do you feel about non-matching pieces of furniture and going bold on a piece? Share your comments below!