Thursday, March 24, 2016
We are spending some of my maternity leave at home in Ireland (I had a baby! She's adorable! I'm so tired all the time!) and the house that we're renting here is a monster compared to the weeny one or one-and-a-quarter-bed flats we're used to in London.
We mostly huddled in one corner of the kitchen when we moved in, like agoraphobic bunnies freshly sprung from a cage, but now we've spread out and are slowly colonising the whole place and drying our underwear on the radiators, and slowly it's starting to feel a bit more like home. I'm taking advantage of the fact that we have a separate dining room (!!!) to makeover this new-to-us mega-orange pine farmhouse dining table that I picked up on DoneDeal for €70.
Fun fact: I also bought my dream Jenny Packham wedding dress on DoneDeal! True story.
Anyway, this beast of a table was obviously in need of a hefty dose of TLC but I reckoned it had good bones - just look at those sexy AF turned legs! - and to be perfectly honest I was in desperate need of A Not-Baby-Related Project.
The first item on the agenda was to sort out that varnished orange tone, and that was where I made my first mistake. I should have used a chemical stripper like the trusty Nitromoors I usually turn to for any paint removing work, but with a babóg in the house I decided against using anything fume-y and got sander-happy instead. I think I still have carpenter's lung as a result.
To add insult to respiratory injury, I managed to dig a couple of divots into the table lid in my power-tooled enthusiasm to get shot of some particularly pernicious orange patches, but when my sanding frenzy was done I showed the affected areas some love with a handheld sanding block and they were barely noticeable.
Having eventually achieved this paler tone to the wood and cooing over it like it was an especially cute new Pomeranian puppy, I initially thought that the next step would simply be to lacquer it to protect from stains and water damage and the like. However. A quick Google informed me that due to the peculiarities of pine, it will apparently always tend to orange. So over time that hard won lighter finish would invariably revert to the colour of my fake tan circa 2003. As the bambino would say, WAAAAAH.
One Google later and I had the solution: this video, complete with almost unbearable background buzz, from a crew called Finney's Wood Finishes. I mixed up a semi-translucent stain using white wood dye, acrylic lacquer, and some water as instructed, and buffed it into the wood using a soft cloth. Ok, ok: using a pair of decommissioned knickers. (What the hell else can you repurpose old knickers for? Seriously. And they are perfect for jobs like these.)
The idea is that this whitewash will act like a long-term real life Instagram filter (Hudson, maybe?) counteracting those pesky orange tones as they start to reappear.
The next step in the table's rehabilitation will be to paint the apron and legs grey and then wax/lacquer the whole thing, all of which I hope to get done in the course of the long Easter weekend. After turning my nose up at Annie Sloan chalk paint like a total elitist DIY snob for the last several years, having extraordinarily limited time to dedicate to furniture do-overs means that I suddenly find a paint that needs no major prep work very appealing indeed.
I've got a shiny tin of Paris Grey all ready to go - teething permitting...