Sunday, September 09, 2012

Painting's Easy, Decisions Are Hard

With that admission, the vanity that came to live with us from a garage sale two weeks ago has been finished for about a week. Woo hoo! However its reconstruction was not without a labor of love via the usual spat of decision dilemmas.

Formerly dressed in mermaid attire:
The sanding and painting was fairly quick enough, although, never underestimate the amount of time things take when there are lots of pieces and legs...and that slick spray paint was not all that interested in being sanded off!

Ready for paint

The Glories of Chalk Paint & Waxing?

Now don't kick me out of the club, but for all the glories regaled in regard to chalk paint, I'm not sure I'm sold. (Granted, I made my own. Maybe that's why.) However, even using only one kind of wax, it still felt like a lot of process. Also the fast drying nature of the paint made me rush like crazy to keep it from drying before I got it onto the furniture. Too much Plaster of Paris, not enough water? Suggestions welcome.

Waxing seems time consuming. First you put it on, then you buff it off. Then you need a second coat, so you do the whole process again. If waxing was no big deal, I have a feeling my car wouldn't look quite so dull and dirty all the time. But then I do most of my furniture work outside and you get just as hot as when waxing the car, so maybe that has something to do with my lack of love for the process. Plus, if dark wax was applied as well and followed up with clear wax, I might still be waxing and buffing today!

If someone wants to share the benefits of wax over poly, please do. It seems to me that polyurethane works just as well and is a whole lot faster. But that's just me.

Low Decision Threshold

Once the color decision was made (don't even get me started on the inner turmoil over color choices), and the furniture was painted and waxed, choosing fabric to cover the vanity stool was the next dilemma. The plan was to do a simple burlap seat cover (low decision threshold inspired this idea) and the plan was to paint something on it. It's what to paint that ended up plaguing me.

Without a stencil, a brain challenged by inability to choose and wanting to just get done fell victim to indecisiveness, again. Why can't good stencils just be readily available? There is a market out there. Maybe they are online, but I like to go to the store and just pick up what I want when I want it. Is that asking too much?

Since there were fabric pieces here on hand that weren't big enough for their original purpose, they were considered for a pairing with the burlap. No one was around to give any input, so the decision was all mine.

[insert nail more biting here. Yes, my nails are nothing but stubs now.]

Had to piece the batting together

My Kryptonite

Measuring is my kryptonite. If something has to be measured and cut, and there is just barely enough fabric and even a slight chance I might mess it up and be stuck, I will fiddle with other things and wander around the house trying to be purposeful during my inner turmoil. Back and forth, I frouff things and think, imagine, and stare. I open the fridge and consider an ice cream break, get a drink and check my mail and stare some more and make lists in my head of all I have to do until I want to shoot myself.

Talking to Myself

So I forced myself, as I often must do in such circumstances. I made myself grab scissors and measuring tape and eyeballed the amount of fabric needed by making a mock up on the stool for visual confirmation, measured that, and concentrated on remembering to add the seam allowance. Then I told me I could do it.

Talking outloud helps. It just does.

Mathaphobia and Me

I get sweaty just thinking about math and messing up the numbers and remembering to turn the fabric right side together and doing everything backwards and upside down. All of that is mental torture to a mathaphobic. So I kept telling myself it wouldn't be the end of the world if the fabric got ruined or the end result was not appealing, because that is always a possibility. Like talking a lunatic down from a ledge, but it seems to have worked. Still, how to arrange the fabric, that was the question, and I talked myself into thinking my plan was okay, just to make me do something and to keep going. The goal was to be done by that night.

Despite constantly maneuvering around all the furniture and junk that's come home to live with us, my feet beat a path back and forth through the house, weaving and turning sideways to fit past things because pins and scissors and whatever was needed at any given moment always mysteriously ended up at the opposite end of the house from where I was when it was needed. The fabric was pinned and there was just enough thread to sew most of it. The machine only started making clunking sounds at the end. The project forged ahead. No turning back, no slowing down.

Defeating the Inner Wimp

After the pieces of fabric were sewn together, there were more decisions. Another difficult part was coming. "You know you might mess it up, and you barely have enough batting as it is!" I heard my inner wimp fearfully tell me.

Of course, there wasn't a large enough piece of batting in the stash either. Why is there never enough? But I was NOT going out for more. So a few pieces were sewn together and hopefully that showed my inner wimp a thing or two.

There would be no stalling this project. Perfect or not, it was going to be done and soon.

There were just enough staples to cover the seat and the excess was trimmed down without anything being destroyed. It ain't perfect, but it'll do. That part was done.

Vanity vs The Hidden Person of the Heart

One last touch and we could call it a success. For some time, it's been my desire to place a certain verse I love in a dresser drawer. Then along came this "vanity". What better place to impart a 1 Peter 3: 3,4 reminder.

Your adornment must not be merely external, 
braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses; 
but let it be the hidden person of the heart 
with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit 
which is precious in the sight of God. 
1 Peter 3, 3,4

A timely reminder for one sitting in front of the vanity mirror.

Kudos to My Transfer Method Mentors

The methods for transferring type onto finished surfaces were new to me. These are methods whereby you print what you want on paper (reversing the image first, which, in my excitement to get done I forgot to do the first time and had to repaint and start again) and then burnish the ink onto the surface by rubbing a pencil over the back of the paper. I got the instructions for this dry method from Suzan at Simply Vintageous. You can also accomplish the transfer by taking an ever so slightly damp paint brush and dampening the paper until the ink releases underneath. Then you burnish the type with the back of a sharpie or other smooth rounded implement. I decided on the wet paper technique. Sarah at Diddle Dumpling was where I found the idea and her easy to follow tutorial. Hers was the technique I ended up using for this, but I have since tried the dry method on a spare piece of wood and think I will try it next time.

A wise person would have done a practice run on something before jumping in, but I was not that person. I had a little bit of concern about it bleeding too much as I was working but I knew I couldn't peek or I'd ruin it again. The image came out a bit light and fuzzy, but good enough for this application. I had to redo the reference because something happened to that, and it came out much better the second time. I think with practice this will work wonders for other projects.

Oh, and an $8.00 Anthropologie knob was in order. This was the must-have knob for this piece, so I shelled out the cash.

Dollars & Cents

Approximate project cost:

$10 - Vanity
$8  -  Knob
$2  -  Paint and plater of paris
$2  -  Sandpaper (if figure one piece of the kind for my sander costs about $2 if it wasn't purchased on sale. Definitely need to keep an eye out for that at yard sales.)
$1 -  Fabric
Total: $23.00

With a leftover strip of burlap, and some other fabric purchased on sale for something else, but which I hadn't used; this seat recovering was accomplished with a couple of small strips, barely putting a dent in the paint or the Plaster of Paris. This sweet little lovely could have been embellished with one of the knobs on hand here in my stash, but she needed appropriate accessories fitting for a lady of her stature. The knob cost almost as much as the vanity. So the project came in at just over $20. Not bad for a cute little keeper like this:

Not a very well-placed reveal, but light was streaming in from the sunrise the next morning, and time was of the essence in getting a shot and moving on. The right hand strip of cream fabric could also have used a little mushing over so it doesn't look cockamamie, but you get the picture.

So there you have it. The deadline was met. Mission accomplished. One of many. The others are all in process. Everything piling up on my to do list seems to have needed a color or supply I don't have, so I do what I can and then jump to another project. There are many, many half done projects lying on every open surface of my home at the moment. Project ADD.

So even though it may appear like my life is comprised of running around amassing great quantities of trash and cheap garage sale finds, I'm actually doing something during my blog silence. It's a lot easier to quickly show what's been found than it is to reveal completed projects! I'm working on it though.

Beautiful Chaos

Honestly, it's a bit chaotic here right now. A beautiful chaos, an extent.

Oh, and while the vanity was undergoing reconstructive surgery, Casey had some days off of school and work and got motivated to undertake the repainting of her room as a jumping off point to redoing it altogether.

Nice color, huh? Stay tuned - as always, our life is in process...

I'll be sharing this with:

Furniture Feature Fridays


  1. The vanity is super cute. I haven't tried the real chalkpaint yet, but I have used Rustoleum black chalkboard paint on a shelf that I thought worked out pretty good.

  2. Turned out gorgeous...yalls hard work is sure showing.

  3. Oh my sweet goodness.
    You make me tired! Running around amassing quantities of lifeless items...just so you can resuscitate them and give them life!
    This little vanity-- looks scrumptious! I love the paint, the knob, the transfer inside the drawer! Oh and that little cushy seat. Perfect.

    Way to go! Pat

  4. P.S.

    Oh...I'm getting your posts in my email again. Go figure!
    It just showed up there one day. Yay!

  5. Looks wonderful Liz! I like the color of the vanity, and need to learn how to transfer images to items. If I don't have a stencil, I'm outta luck. The bench makeover works great! Love what you've done!

  6. It's cute! I have never made my own chalk paint and from some stuff I've read I don't plan to. Annie Sloan has it figured out and I will stick with her! The paint doesnt' dry in the cup I'm working from but the speed it dries on the stuff is just amazing. I get way more projects finished in a time period than I used to. Wax finish is personal preference I think. I LOVE the look and feel so much I will do the work. I don't enjoy the buffing but I feel the look and feel is worth it. But that's just me! If you like poly - go for it! We are all allowed our own choices and opinions - that's why there are so many options!
    Good job on this project - I really like how you did that stool!

  7. Now that it looks amazing - it's time for that ice cream break! Maybe even a sundae - you deserve it!

    And I hope your neighbor moves quickly so you can get your hands on all his castoffs!

  8. You did a fantastic job - it turned out awesome!! Love the fancy drawer knob and the special surprise in the drawer. I have yet to find ASCP here and haven't tried making my own. I'm a little chicken. :) Have a rest sometime this weekend, you deserve it! :)

  9. Liz there were a few moments when I could have [sworn] that you were talking about me. Not to worry I didnt [swear].
    Good job--I mean REALLY-great job. THE DRAWER-wow, and WOW! that part of my Bible is so highlighted up and down the pages.


  10. You did beautiful work! I love the different fabrics together on the bench, and the quote is perfect.

  11. Great job ... "measuring is your Kryptonite" haha

  12. Awesome transformation of that ugly duckling paint job. Love the color and the beautiful quote you put inside the drawer...what a good idea that was. Love the new color of Casey's walls.

  13. What a beautiful transformation. I especially love that you added something meaningful to the inside of your drawer. I had never thought to do that before but now, I am inspired. Really well done!

  14. Wow, awesome makeover, I laughed reading your post, the hardest part for me is the decision making :-{. Live how you measure - Kryptonite! Maybe I should try that. I also felt like you were talkin about me I could so relate to it. It's why I don't move forward as fast because I "procrastinate" about decision. Love how it turned out - glad you made the decisions you did! Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration with Sunday’s Best – you helped make the party a success!

  15. Gorgeous, as usual! I love the writing inside the drawer. All in all, a great make-over. Wish I had it here!

  16. The color is perfect. The writing inside the drawer is a nice, unexpected touch.

    Hope you'll come see Jane's vintage doorstop collection. Dropping by from Met Monday - #38.


  17. This made me chuckle because you sound exactly like me!

    The little vanity turned out wonderfully, and the knob just makes it. I love Anthro for knobs.

  18. Great job, it looks fabulous and I love the writing inside the drawer.

  19. The vanity looks great and I agree with the others that the writing inside the drawer makes it very special.


  21. Well done Liz!
    Your vanity is absolutely charming and my favorite touch was adding in 1 Peter 3: 3 and 4
    Thank you for sharing!

  22. Liz, Your vanity turned out sooo cute! I love the idea of the verse inside the drawer. Perfect choice.
    Mary Alice

  23. The finished job is perfect and I would be delighted to have it my home. :)

  24. Beautiful! I've wanted a vanity since I was little! We'd love for you to link this up at our party!

  25. I love this! You did a great job with repainting this set.

  26. Thanks so much for joining in with this week's Say G'day Linky Party! This looks amazing! I have just shared this post on Google+ and am pinning it as well!

    Hope to see you again this Saturday.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  27. Love the idea of adding script inside a drawer!! Thanks so much for linking to my tutorial, and for letting me know about this post. What a treat to see it in action!

  28. Love it Liz! Yes, the $8 knob was a must. I have only used the make it yourself chalk paint. I think it's too much plaster of Paris. I found I had to keep adding water. I really want to buy some A. S. paint and see how it compares. Thanks for sharing with Share Your Cup.

  29. The vanity is gorgeous. Love the colour! Found you through Elizabeth & Co linky party and am now a follower through GFC. Would love a follow back at

  30. I'd say you've turned this piece into a future family heirloom! I've had my eye open for a pretty wood vanity like this to replace my daughter's old metal one. I just love everything you chose for it; the color, finish, fabric, embellishment, and the knob, too. It's all just so charming.

  31. What a beautiful vanity! You really put the extra effort in on this one!


Thanks for coming by. I hope you'll say hello and let me know your thoughts. I'd love to hear from you! Unfortunately spammers have been at an all time high, so I will no longer be able to accept anonymous comments.