Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dated Oak Transforms to Restoration Look

At TLC Vintage Collection, central Iowa headquarters for Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan, we are constantly looking for easy applications that can quickly transform dated decor. I know that in Des Moines, Iowa and around the country, there are plenty of these dark oak kitchen cabinets or doors from the 1970s or later (or earlier for that matter). Heavy, dark and not to interesting. But not for long!

Here is what you need to do, and as usual the prep work is the least fun and most tedious. But with any project, you need a clean canvas for your paint. If the wood is in the kitchen, use a degreaser first, then wash with Dawn dishsoap and hot water, followed by a rinse of clear water. If not in the kitchen, you can skip the degreaser!

I was challenged by one of my commercial customers, who is a faux finisher, to produce the Restoration Hardware look over a varnish finish. Below is a Restoration Hardware sideboard. Their work is normally on raw wood, and varies in shades of greys, blacks, browns and tan/whites. But we do not want to go to the work, dust, caustic material needed to get down to raw wood. It is unnecessary if you are using Chalk Paint®, which will adhere to almost any surface.

photo from Restoration Hardware product catalogue on line

I grabbed an old oak cabinet door (if you know my work room, you know that almost anything is at hand!) My customer had photos of existing furnishings she was trying to match in a kitchen so I thought that what we needed were layers of Graphite, French Linen, Coco and Paris Grey. We would also need a paint brush, and then a wax brush for the Clear Soft Wax. 

This method uses very little paint compared to fully painting kitchen cabinets, because we are dry brushing each and every coat!  There is not a true full coat of any color. You add each one to the amount that produces the depth of color you are working towards. Our first layer was Graphite.

When dry brushing, I like to put a little paint on my brush, then discharge most of the dampness onto a piece of cardboard. Your brush is very nearly dry when you paint with it. Our purpose here is that we will not totally cover up the grain of the wood, but allow it to show through. Paint with the direction of the grain. Graphite helps define that grain first before we layer more colors, so the coat of Graphite is a little heavier than the others to give us a base to work on. 

Each coat is allowed to dry before adding the next. Feathering on paint through dry brushing allows us to whisper the paint on -- just picking up the high points in the previous coat of paint. While I have shown one of Annie's beautiful paint brushes in the photo, I do find that my oldest, cheapest roughest chip brush is what I like to dry brush with more often than not. 

I followed Graphite with French Linen.....

Then Coco......

And finally Paris Grey to make the board look as if it had highlights.

When dry, three coats of Clear Soft Wax were applied a day apart each. Since there is little paint on the board, we need to give each coat a little time to cure before adding the next so we have a strong bond. A little sanding with 200 grit sandpaper helps blend the edges of each color together.

After the third coat is hardened in a few days, you can buff if you wish. But personally I like the matte look of Restoration Hardware, so I did not buff this wax.

A trendy look for some old cabinets at a fraction of the cost! You can enjoy your thriftiness and the compliments you will be getting from all your visitors! 

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