A New Look for an Antique Cast Iron Crib/Daybed: Stripping Paint for a Blackened & Lightly Polished Finish

IMG_6030

IMG_6129

It was extremely difficult for me to begin this project, because I did not want to go through with it…

See, I found a wonderful little crib or daybed on Craig’s List several years ago, and it had the most perfect, gorgeous, layered chipped paint I’d ever seen on a bed frame.  It is the kind of patina that only time and wear can produce, and I’ve never yet seen a convincing modern finish in person (although online there have been a select few potential examples.)  Back then I had no reason or space in the apartment to set up a daybed, but I loved the frame and looked forward to using it as is.  Although beautifully chipped and cracked the remaining paint was solidly adhered and stable.  I planned to clear coat it for more durability, but alas this could not be done in good conscious now, thanks to lead.  (While encapsulation is one way to deal with old lead paint I wasn’t comfortable with relying on a clear coat.)  Instead my options were to chemically strip every trace off or have it sand blasted.

Sand blasting sounded like a great idea, and it was always the backup plan.  I’d found a few places “locally” to do it, and the cost was not outrageous.  There would be no work for me, and if I’d preferred a pristine finish then they could powder coat the frame any colour too.  Over the past few months I mulled over options for decorative finishes, powder coating in pale grey or some variety of white, or a clear finish over the raw iron.  The decorative ideas were all seen online, and I wasn’t sure they were options from the local places.  Besides that I’m really picky about faux finishes.  Meanwhile, powder coating any shade of white kind of killed me since I loved the chippy white so much, and I wasn’t sure how thrilled I’d be with anything new and pristine looking… even if in a grey. Leaving the metal a raw silver sounded pretty neat, and I did a bunch of Googling to see what it could be like.  However, I saw that this would leave the iron too bright and shiny for our tastes, and I began to prefer the idea of saving a little money by stripping the frame myself in spite of it surely being a lot of work.

It was a lot of work indeed!  I spent several days on it last week, and I was left entirely exhausted and very achey each evening.  As I was working I was full of misgivings, and there was a time that I was afraid I’d never get it to look the way I hoped, but by Friday evening it was done and was close enough to the picture in my head.  (Yes, I’m finally writing this a week later.)  So, here is the process I used to strip, blacken, polish, and seal the old iron…

Once I’d decided to go ahead with stripping and a new finish I had the new look in mind: I wanted the iron to look aged and blackened with freshly polished silver highlights.  The idea was to have it look like armour or metalwork at a renaissance faire and to avoid L thinking it looked like an old jail (too dark) or flashy (too polished.)  He never shared my enthusiasm for cast iron bed frames and cribs although he does like when it is used for other furniture.  (Something to do with it reminding him of old institutional furnishings, I believe?)  He certainly didn’t appreciate the chippy paint, but I thought I could win him over with the armour look.

First I had to strip off the old paint.  With all the crevices and bars I knew this wasn’t going to be the most fun task, but it wasn’t too bad.  The worst part was that I couldn’t complete it in one day, and when stripping the work (and amount of stripper required) completely doubles by starting again even if nearly done the first evening.  Bleh.  When I stopped work the first day there was just a bit of paint to scrub out of the deepest crevices on two pieces, a bit more on the other two, and I was very happy with the silver tone of the bare metal.  Sadly leaving it overnight led to the development of specks of rust allllllll over.  I’d been concerned about rust.  Unfortunately every piece of the frame had flash rust by the time all traces of paint were removed.  This is when I worried that I might not manage to get the blackened look.  Brown or rusty-red wasn’t a good tone for the room, and I wondered what would be the best way to get black.

With Citristrip:

Rust the next morning:

IMG_6049.jpg

Cleaned up and bare cast iron:

Rusting while I was working:

I’d tried to find a product called Penetrol to treat the metal and rust, but no stores in the area carried it anymore.  I’d found a lot of references to it online as the perfect thing for preserving the rusted look of bare cast iron, but I did wonder if it might not play well with spray lacquer, and it most likely wouldn’t have given the look I wanted either.  (It darkens rust as if it were wet, and with so much rust and not going for brown this wasn’t right for the project after all.)  I took another trip to the hardware store and spent a long time considering various types of paint, primers, and rust converters.  Perhaps spraying on black primer, wiping it away from portions, and polishing would work?  Finally I went with a little bottle of rust converter by Rustoleum which the paint guy and the label assured would turn rust black.  It worked wonderfully.

I brushed and wiped the converter over every bit of the frame.  In areas that were supposed to be dark I left a thicker coating and wiped it thinly wherever I planned to polish.  Overall the frame ended up being darker than I meant, but the main reason was that I had put a second package of steel wool replacement pads back on the shelf.  The few I had wore out and stopped brightening the metal after just one side was done.  Shoot!  I tried using actual steel wool in a few levels of coarseness, but nothing polished as well as the plastic pads.  Sadly the best side is not the more visible one when set up in the room either, but I polished everything as well as I could, one side at a time, and sprayed lacquer before moving to the next portion hoping to keep the finish as I saw it without any more rust.  I didn’t dare leave it long enough to go buy a few more pads, so soon the frame was complete and there wasn’t any going back.  I’m actually very pleased with it.

Meanwhile I also decided to paint the mattress support thing too.  I’d thought to keep it original, but eventually the idea of clean black won over since I already changed the rest of the it anyway.  I only had a little can of black Rustoleum, so I had to brush it on in a few coats.  I think it looks much better than the worn out gold, brown, and rust, and I typed the original markings to leave them visible.  I also had to make new hardware, because the movers lost one very important piece.  Grrrrrrrr!  To recreate the missing piece, and a match for a pair, I bought steel dowels and steel end cap nuts to JB Weld to the top mimicking the mushroom-cap end of the original.  I also had to drill a hole in the other ends for a cotter pin, and I selected shiny new pins and springs while I was at it.  The metal was all extremely shiny, so I scoured it with sand paper to tone down the finish.


The big to-do list has had some very nice progress since my last post:

Mini’s room
-Brush final trim coat on nursery panelling.
-Remove storm windows
-Disassemble, and replace storm screens.  (Update: make new screens to install for summer instead of storms.)
-Scrape and glaze: (One,) (two,) (three.)
-Paint exterior windows.
-Make & install screens.
-Remove old security crap from windows.
-Patch.
-Paint windows (interior.)
-Scrape and vacuum.
-Install sash locks.
-Change light switch and cover plate.
Install shades.
-Have crib sandblasted and finished or do clear coat (Update: strip and finish bare cast iron.) 
-Add more blackening to crib
-Paint the mattress support section?
-Clear coat crib.
-Attach casters or feet to crib.  
-Create replacement hardware for side.
Polish and oil chrome stroller frames, wash Emmaljunga fabric, finish installing new hardware on re-covered vintage Hedstrom pram, make pattern and new seat for Emmalunga?
-Attach casters to walker and assemble.
-Bring dresser from Dad’s and refinish.
-Sew Kirghiz felted carpet to a dowel for wall-hanging.
-Strip rocking chair.
-Sand rocking chair.
-Stain rocking chair.
-Reupholster rocking chair and sew pillows.
-Clear coat chair and touch up hutch.
-Fix leaky sink valve.
-Set up furniture, Mammaroo, and organise.
-Strip new mid-century hutch.
-Patch and sand hutch as needed.
-Stain hutch.
-Clear coat hutch.
-Pack hospital bag.  -self  -Mini
-Arrange furniture.
-Organise, again, and again.
-Hang wall decor, mirror, mobile.

Main living areas and stuff
-Replace certain outlets, switches, and cover plates.
-Paint dining/living windows.
-Scrape messy paint.
-Finish painting kitchen trim and panelling
-Repaint living/dining ceiling.
-Apply sealant on entry and hearth tile/grout.
-Sew back of sofa.
-Staple cambric.
-Sew pillow covers.
-Finish sanding dining chairs.
-Stain and wax chairs.
-Paint and Mod Podge antique travel chest.
-Touch up kitchen chairs and hoosiers.
-Repair coffee table.
-Repair and sand end table.
-Paint table.  
-Paint main bath.
LATER:
-Reupholster recliner.
-Reaupholster little round chair.

Front of house
-Patch broken front steps.
-Paint foundation a more pleasing shade.
-Buy new light fixture and install with sensor bulb.
-Last bit of patching.
-Last bit of painting.
-Wash exterior windows and skylights (uninstalling storms.  Make screens.)
-Finish glazing windows

Unfinished part of basement
-Finish painting walls.
-Rewaterproof spot on floor.
-Touch up floor paint.

Organisation
-Organise storage area.
-Organise basement.
-Organise Garage.  Again
-Organise attic.  Sort stored items again before sale.
-Organise kitchen.  Pantry.
-Organise sewing room.  Again?
-Organise baby items in closet.
-Organise master closets: L’s & mine .
-organise master bath closets and vanity.
-organise linen closet

-Have yard sale.

Dressing room and spiral stairwell
Done!

Sewing room
Done!

Other kinds of non-house projects 
-Stain and make a busy board for Mini
-Sew dresses for myself
-Fall/spring linen coat for myself and Mini
-Diaper and clothing organiser squares
-Dresses, pants, and quilted coats for Mini from scraps
-Small and full sized quilt
-Sew some soft toys
-Crochet or knit sweaters, hats, pants, and booties for Mini
-Make a mobile?

Master
-Caulk.
-Paint master ceiling.
-Touch up master bath vanity.
-Recoat walls.
-Properly hang mirror.
-Install tub trim kit and drain.
-Install shower trim kit.
-New switches, outlets, and cover plates.

Exterior                                                                                                                                  
-Weed garden and path
-Stain east side of house.
-Stain or hire west side of house.
-Powerwash patios and chairs.
-Paint rusty table with hammered finish.
-Stain patios.
-Permanently attach umbrella to deck with bolts.
-Powerwash fence.
-Stain fence.

Part IV: Finished Reupholstering the Rocking Chair

IMG_5657.jpg

 

I’m DONE!  I finished upholstering on Friday, as planned, and I am so glad.  However, I do still need to clear coat the wood.  I waited to do that thinking it would probably get marred while upholstering, and I also have some other things to coat while I have the brush out.  Now projects on hold for “vacation.”  I am getting very antsy with only having 30-some days left before the due date and too many things I’d like to have done.  A lot of those things are sewing projects or little things that aren’t necessary, but I’d sure rather be able to.

On to the chair…

Prepared for seat back fabric with cording applied to the edge:

prepared for the seat back fabric.jpg

Stapling the seat back:

stapling seat back.jpg

Side pinned for stitching:

seat back pinned at side for hand stitching.jpg

For this piece (and most) I prefer to hand stitch the sides.  Although I despise the actual process of stitching it is easier with a proper needle.  I struggled with a regular sewing needle until partway through this chair, and I’ll never go back to the sore fingers!  A long needle allows you to stab the layers so much more easily and is very much worth buying.  Anyway, there is metal edging stuff and stiff tack bars that you could buy to staple on and such the fabric edge into and to stretch and finish sides.  I have a bunch of it and have used it, but I’m able to get better results by sewing.  Besides that I’ve found that it can open up and separate over time (this is happening on our sofa, which has its factory upholstering.)  I might as was hand stitch for the durability and better look.

hand stitching upholstery seam.jpg

hand sewn seam and piping or cording.jpg

Done!  🙂  🙂  🙂


Despite the “vacation,” the other day I did organise more of Mini’s things that were stacked in the closet and under the bed.  One morning I rearranged the room multiple times and wasn’t pleased with the space taken up by the bed.  I even found a very nice old wooden twin sized bed on Craigslist for $50, but I haven’t settled on whether to downsize or not.  Meanwhile I moved the darned bed all over the room, but it ended up going back where it started.  After all that!  😀  Now I’m left with the crib and rocker in awkward locations, but I am happy enough with the hutch, dresser and bed positioning.  I don’t know…

Here is the CL bed.  I like it (and the price) very much, but I’m not sure if it is worth replacing the one we have since a full size will be better once the crib is done being used.

 

I’ve also planned out a quilt to make for the bed.  While I have a nice one, that I like, it is terrible about showing (and not easily letting go of) cat fur.  I like the idea of sewing a quilt too and using colours that I choose to create the look I’d prefer in the room.  I’ll post about this next time.

Part III: Reupholstering & Refinishing a Rocking Chair

Slowly I am getting there.  The chair is nearly done.  I’ve found it necessary to rest too often lately, and it has really extended the timeline.  L has been working from home which also kills my levels of productivity thanks to a lot of interruptions and time taken to make meals that otherwise wouldn’t be happening.  I naturally have a harder time with my motivation when anyone is around besides.  Finally the end came into sight yesterday though, and I’m mostly happy with the way it is turning out.

In the afternoon I had to stop work early, and I was as far as having attached one outer arm section.  Today I should do the other outer arm and the back.  Then I could make and glue the double welt trim to completely finish… except that I need a lot more of the cord to do that.  (I selected a thinner kind than the big spool I have since the velvet makes it appear even wider.)  Drat, drat, Drat!  Tomorrow I have an appointment which is right by the store to get more, so I cannot finish it until sometime after.  I’m not thrilled about this, but I’m not wasting time and fuel today to go to the store when I have to be there tomorrow.

Here is yesterday’s stopping point.  Aside from missing the finishing welt on the edge it looks done from this angle, yay!

stopping point the 19th June 2017.jpg

You may notice a flaw that I regret…  When I pieced lengths of bias for the welt trim for along the inner seat I mistakenly switched the direction of the nap of one piece, and the light catches it very obviously.  I’m irked with myself for not catching this until I was in the midst of gluing, and for thinking that the bias would keep it from being noticeable.  It sticks out like a sore thumb to me, and I am past the stage where I could tear it off and replace it.  (I was too afraid to try this when I first realised only halfway through gluing, and it could have been a big issue pulling out staples from the narrowly trimmed edge and ruining that side, I guess… so, I’m trying to ignore it.)

Bits of bias cut velvet made into cording/piping for the seat and to border the outer back:

The piping gets sewn to one seat piece, and then you go over the stitching again with it sandwiched.  All the sewing is done with a double cording foot.

stitching seat deck pieces and piping.jpg

At this point I was excited to finally begin applying the pretty fabric to the chair.  I measured and marked where the piped seam should sit to make it easier and more precise to attach.  I’m not certain if this is correct, but it seemed like a good idea to hand stitch the seam to the line in order to keep its proper placement.  All my other sofas and chairs had separate cushions, and this is similar to what is done with the seat deck in those cases.  I didn’t want it to pull out of position as I stapled or to slide with use, and I hope it works out well long term. (Not only to look better, but using a curved needle really sucks and cramps up my hand, so it better be worth it!)

Stapling the seat and then finished off with welt:

IMG_5441.jpg

Inner arms done and gluing the trim:

Attaching muslin and dracon:

Stapling outer arm:

IMG_5585.jpg

At this point I realised I could finish off the bottom with cambric and didn’t have to wait until I have the welting cord or anything.  Yay.  The straps are all hidden and clean now.

IMG_5583.jpg

Waiting for another outer arm, the back, and finishing trim:

So close!  If only I wasn’t held back by running out of the cord!  I cannot even spend the rest of the day making pillows without it.  Instead I’ll probably install blinds and do other small tasks depending on my pain and energy levels.  Needing the space to work on the chair has kept me from pulling out the crib, or anything like that, and I could today… but I probably should wait until after our vacation that starts tomorrow just to avoid unnecessary cluttering.  Perhaps I’ll plan out the quilt(s) to figure out yardage requirements or even cut out a dress?  Or just spend too much time laying flat on my back to keep it from going into full on spasm, more likely.  Sigh.

Part II: Reupholstering & Refinishing a Rocking Chair

Before I get to the chair…  I’ve been busy and working hard!  Yesterday I gave the mid-century Bassett hutch a couple of coats of satin polyacrylic, and it is done.  Yay!  I updated the post with completed photos, but here they are too:

I wanted to apply the protective coat as soon as possible to let it cure well before things are placed on it.  Next I tackled the rocking chair.

Earlier this week I had reluctantly removed a good portion of dracon and supportive layers which had been made disgusting while in storage or from my friend’s cat acting out.  The other day she told me that she had spotted the chair kerbside!  I’d just told her about scoring the Bassett hutch, and she shared the joy of found treasures.  😀  What brand or store it came from is a mystery, and I think it may have had some moisture damage before she acquired it 18 years ago given how rusted away the lower staples were.  Her cat sure did a number on it too!  (Honestly, I saw the vinyl and figure how bad could it possibly be?  Yeah, bad.)

Here is a reminder of Before in the photos she sent me to see if I was interested in taking it:

Cleaned up a bit after she brought it over to our house:

After stripping the frame and sanding:

Earlier this week while removing layers that would have been nice to be able to keep:

removing layers and a million staples.JPG

Besides removing anything nasty I also used a bunch of enzyme scent remover stuff on it.  It helped a lot, I think.  Next I stained the frame:

I love the carbon grey stain and how well all the wooden pieces are going to match!

Yesterday I set about removing more layers and staples from the rocking chair.  What an unpleasant part of the process!  It is messy, gross (when dealing with this particular item anyway,) takes a lot of hand strength, and is tedious.  Luckily I’d done most of the hard part already and by early afternoon could begin the fun part of transforming the piece into a nice newly upholstered chair.  Unfortunately my second sewing machine, with the high shank and all the attachments that can be used for upholstering, had problems.  It’s a Necchi BU that has never seemed to work 100% as well as it should ever since I bought it.  I wasted several hours messing with it before finally getting things to work sufficiently, and I was very irritated.  Thus I never go to begin applying the linen velvet to the chair yet, but I did leave off with a muslin base for the seat deck:

muslin applied to seat deck.jpg

The muslin gives a smooth base and allows the batting to be basted down temporarily (after covering with the velvet the threads are cut to let the foam spring back into place and this prevents sad, saggy, excess fabric on the seat after use.)  I find the tidy muslin layer is nice for feeling like I accomplished something and gives a good sense of “I can do this” before cutting the precious final fabric too.  It lets you get a better idea of how to handle fiddly bits, so I don’t recommend skipping it although it is tempting to save the time and fabric.

On to the gorgeous linen velvet…  I never unwrapped it in the years since it was purchased, without any set project in mind, back in 2012.  Of course I had forgotten how much yardage there was, but there was plenty for this chair, even with planning extra pillows and dealing with the nap, with 8 or 9 yards on the roll.  As I recall I spent about 80$ on it thanks to eBay, and that is a complete steal.  I don’t think L would have been very pleased if I told him I wanted to spend $600+ on fabric if I were trying to get the same sort at the store.  😀  Anyway, I love, love, love the colour and feel of it too.  I always hesitate when about to use a beloved fabric, because there is always a “what if I end up with a better project for it?” or “what if if I screw up??”  I must say that it goes so well with the frame though:

another shot to show shimmer of grey linen uppholstery velvet.jpg

As you can see, it isn’t easy to capture the true look in photos!

So, the last thing I did yesterday was to plan out the pieces required, double check, and mark the yardage:

I have a couple of yards left over for making pillow covers.  I’m planning on a lumbar pillow and will make a neck roll sort of thing too, and there is more if I want to add some throw pillows for the living room sofa or anything.  Actually, I may make a chair pad to cover the seat and save it from cat or baby messes?  I don’t know.

That’s it for now, because I need to go get to work on sewing and upholstering this thing!

 


On to the continuously updated to-do list.  I’ve completed quite a bit since the last post with it and have colour coded the remainder with red as high priority projects and orange for want to do but maybe/likely will not:

Mini’s room
-Brush final trim coat on nursery panelling.
-Remove storm windows
-Disassemble, and replace screens.  (Update: make new screens to install for summer instead of storms.)
-Scrape and glaze: (One,) (two,) (three.)
-Paint exterior windows.
-Install screens.
-Remove old security crap from windows.
-Patch.
-Paint windows (interior.)                                                                                                                             -Scrape and vacuum.
-Install sash locks.
-Change light switch and cover plate.
-Buy and install shades.
-Have crib sandblasted and finished or do a DIY clear coat.
-Attach casters to crib.  Create replacement hardware.
-Attach casters to walker and assemble.
-Bring dresser from Dad’s and refinish.
-Sew Kirghiz felted carpet to a dowel for wall-hanging.
-Strip rocking chair.
-Sand rocking chair.
-Stain rocking chair.
-Reupholster rocking chair and sew pillows.  
-Fix leaky sink valve.
-Set up furniture, wall art, and organise.
-Strip new mid-century hutch.
-Patch and sand hutch as needed.
-Stain hutch.
-Clear coat hutch

Main living areas and stuff
-Replace certain outlets, switches, and cover plates.
-Paint dining/living windows.
-Scrape messy paint.
-Finish painting kitchen trim and panelling
-Repaint living/dining ceiling.
-Apply sealant on entry and hearth tile/grout.
-Sew back of sofa.
-Staple cambric.
-Sew pillow covers.
-Finish sanding dining chairs.
-Stain and wax chairs.
-Paint and Mod Podge antique travel chest.
-Touch up kitchen chairs and hoosiers.
-Repair coffee table.
-Repair and sand end table.
-Paint table.                                                                                                                                     -Paint main bath.
LATER:
-Reupholster recliner.
-Reaupholster little round chair.

Exterior                                                                                                                                  
-Weed garden and path
-Stain east side of house.
-Stain or hire west side of house.
-Powerwash patios and chairs.
-and paint rusty table with hammered finish.
-Stain patios.
-Permanently attach umbrella to deck with bolts.
-Powerwash fence.
-Stain fence.

Front of house
-Patch broken front steps.
-Paint foundation a more pleasing shade.
-Buy new light fixture and install with sensor bulb.
-Last bit of patching.
-Last bit of painting.
-Wash exterior windows and skylights (uninstalling storms.  Make screens.)
-Finish glazing windows

Unfinished part of basement
-Finish painting walls.
-Rewaterproof spot on floor.
-Touch up floor paint.

Organisation
-Organise storage area.
-Organise basement.
-Organise Garage.
-Organise attic.  Sort stored items again before sale.
-Organise kitchen.
-Organise sewing room.
-Organise baby items in closet.
-Organise master closet.

-Have yard sale.

Dressing room and spiral stairwell
Done!

Sewing room
Done!

Other kinds of non-house projects 
-Remake lamp shade for hanging lamp in Mini’s room.
-Remake a play mat and arches for hanging toys?
-Stain and make a busy board for Mini
–Sew dresses for myself; light coat for myself and Mini; dresses, pants, and quilted coats for Mini; a small and queen sized quilt; sew some soft toys; …
-Crochet or knit sweaters, hats, pants, and booties for Mini
-Make a mobile?

Pushed to later:

Master
-Caulk.
-Paint master ceiling.
-Touch up master bath vanity.
-Recoat walls.
-Properly hang mirror.
-Install tub trim kit and drain.
-Install shower trim kit.
-New switches, outlets, and cover plates.

Storage room (now office)
-Remove stored items from storage/office.
-Rip out carpet and pad.
-Remove panelling.
-Patch and caulk.
-Prime.
-Brush paint.
-Roll walls.
-Paint sewer pipe with hammered finish.
-Paint ceiling.
-Change light fixtures.
-Change outlets and cover plates.
-Frame the two cinderblock walls
-Install foam insulation panels
-Drywall or panelling…
-Prime and paint newly insulated walls

Media room
-Get rid of giant speakers and console.
-Mount TV and sound bar.
-Rip out crappy laminate.
-Remove trim.
-Install DryCore.
-Lay insulating underlayment.
-Install vinyl planks.
-Reinstall trim.
-Paint touchups.  (I did re-paint a lot but need to finish since I ended up using a new gallon that doesn’t match perfectly.)
-Arrange furniture.
-Paint or replace stained ceiling tile.  (or ideally change to 2×2′)

An Unexpected Project: Refinishing a Mid-Century Bassett Hutch

I love random lucky scavenging.  Some of my favourite or most useful pieces have been spotted on on the kerb when I least expected…  

mid century bassett hutch refinished

One evening this past weekend my husband wanted to take a walk, and we decided to snake through some blocks in the flat portion of our neighbourhood.  It was a stroke of luck for me that we did happen to walk that way.  I found a new treasure much to L’s dismay.  (L is embarrassed by my kerb-side pickings and is reluctant to even buy such items let alone take them when free.  Our agreement is that I can go back alone and not involve him.)  So, we were walking along, and right ahead of us was a mid-century bookshelf with a cabinet below.  I looked it up and down and determined it was a true find: great design and in very decent condition.  Someone could sell one on Craigslist or in a store for hundreds, I was sure, but more importantly I liked it and realised it could fill a suddenly apparent storage void.  It was a similar style to the dresser that I just finished for Mini, and I wondered if I could fit it in her room… or perhaps it could go along the short wall by the stairs in the media room if not?  Some extra surfaces and spaces to organise the baby items I’ve been arranging would be so nice!…  Meanwhile L was questioning the wisdom of it all and hurried me away.  As we walked home we joked about my inevitable return with the hand-truck, but it seems now that he still thought I might not go for it.  I texted a photo to a friend who was really excited by the find too and enthusiastically suggested the same storage potential that I’d argued.  I decided to go back, probably as early was possible in the morning, to get it.  Late that night I grabbed the hand-truck and set out to collect the piece in a light rain, because it turned out it was supposed to rain a lot during the night, (and I wasn’t certain I’d wake early enough either.)

kerbside Bassett mid century hutch.JPG

Wheeling it home like a nutcase at midnight:

IMG_5284.JPG

IMG_5288.JPG

I’m super excited about it!  While bringing it home I noticed that the logo in the drawer seemed familiar, and Google shows me that Bassett Furniture made both this hutch and my old dresser!  They’ll be a perfectly matching set.   Isn’t that fantastic luck?  Also, it has a small enough footprint that I think I can squeeze it into the room without looking terrible, and I could really use the extra storage to keep things well organised but accessible.  

Yesterday I stripped it and expected it to be a nightmare kind of a job, but it actually went fairly quickly and easily.  Today I dragged it upstairs to sand and stained it.  All that is left is to clear coat.  Woot!  I’d been planning to reupholster the rocker this week, but that project is turning into a complete pain in my butt.  I did work on it, but mostly it has resulted in a mess and more work yet to be done.  There are so many darned staples, and they are thinner and harder to remove than any others I’ve dealt with.  Additional layers have unexpectedly required removal too, because they were disgusting, truly disgusting, with cat pee, slime from stripping, and who knows what.  As a result I probably have to purchase and wait for supplies, but if I don’t find a way to make do with whatever I have then I cannot really work on it until August.  August!  Not great.  😦  I exhausted myself today with it (and the staining) then cleaned up before crashing for a nap.  I’ll see what happens with it tomorrow.  I’m really antsy at every moment that I’m not accomplishing the things on my list, and L took a vacation that is coming up which means an entire week is lost besides all the weekends per usual.  It’s distressing!

Stripped and drying in lovely and lucky 53% humidity:

IMG_5331.JPG

Stripped Bassett Furniture hutch.JPG

After I dragged it upstairs to patch/glue, sand, and stain:

IMG_5346.JPG

Carbon grey to match the Bassett dresser:

charcoal stained Bassett mid-century hutch

I still can hardly believe that all of this went so quickly and easily!  I’d almost passed on taking the hutch thinking all the surfaces and nooks would make for a nightmare project, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  Tomorrow I can brush on the sealer and it’ll be all done!  🙂  🙂  🙂  I’ll share a true “after” photo whenever I do a post on the completed nursery.  (That’s going to be a while!)

Edit 14th July, 2017:

I clear coated the hutch twice yesterday and it is done!  I love how it turned out and decided to add photos here, because the clear coat makes it look quite a bit better.  Behold the after:

mid century bassett hutch refinished.jpg

hutch all done.jpg


On to the continuously updated to-do list.  I’ve completed quite a bit since the last post with it and have colour coded the remainder with red as high priority projects and orange for want to do but maybe/likely will not:

Mini’s room
-Brush final trim coat on nursery panelling.
-Remove storm windows
-Disassemble, and replace screens.  (Update: make new screens to install for summer instead of storms.)
-Scrape and glaze: (One,) (two,) (three.)
-Paint exterior windows.
-Install screens.
-Remove old security crap from windows.
-Patch.
-Paint windows (interior.)                                                                                                                             -Scrape and vacuum.
-Install sash locks.
-Change light switch and cover plate.
-Buy and install shades.
-Have crib sandblasted and finished or do a DIY clear coat.
-Attach casters to crib.  Create replacement hardware.
-Attach casters to walker and assemble.
-Bring dresser from Dad’s and refinish.
-Sew Kirghiz felted carpet to a dowel for wall-hanging.
-Strip rocking chair.
-Sand rocking chair.
-Stain rocking chair.
-Reupholster rocking chair and sew pillows.
-Fix leaky sink valve.
-Set up furniture, wall art, and organise.
-Strip new mid-century hutch.
-Patch and sand hutch as needed.
-Stain hutch.
-Clear coat hutch

Main living areas and stuff
-Replace certain outlets, switches, and cover plates.
-Paint dining/living windows.
-Scrape messy paint.
-Finish painting kitchen trim and panelling
-Repaint living/dining ceiling.
-Apply sealant on entry and hearth tile/grout.
-Sew back of sofa.
-Staple cambric.
-Sew pillow covers.
-Finish sanding dining chairs.
-Stain and wax chairs.
-Paint and Mod Podge antique travel chest.
-Touch up kitchen chairs and hoosiers.
-Repair coffee table.
-Repair and sand end table.
-Paint table.                                                                                                                                     –Paint main bath.
LATER:
-Reupholster recliner.
-Reaupholster little round chair.

Exterior                                                                                                                                  
-Weed garden and path
-Stain east side of house.
-Stain or hire west side of house.
-Powerwash patios and chairs.
-and paint rusty table with hammered finish.
-Stain patios.
-Permanently attach umbrella to deck with bolts.
-Powerwash fence.
-Stain fence.

Front of house
-Patch broken front steps.
-Paint foundation a more pleasing shade.
-Buy new light fixture and install with sensor bulb.
-Last bit of patching.
-Last bit of painting.
-Wash exterior windows and skylights (uninstalling storms.  Make screens.)
-Finish glazing windows

Unfinished part of basement
-Finish painting walls.
-Rewaterproof spot on floor.
-Touch up floor paint.

Organisation
-Organise storage area.
-Organise basement.
-Organise Garage.
-Organise attic.  Sort stored items again before sale.
-Organise kitchen.
-Organise sewing room.
-Organise baby items in closet.
-Organise master closet.

-Have yard sale.

Dressing room and spiral stairwell
-Touch up ceiling paint.
-Shift PAX and MALM to left.
-Patch.
-Brush edges.
-Roll walls.
-Paint trim.

Sewing room
-Remove sewing room door.
-Mark and chisel hinge mortises.
-Mark and drill door knob.  Install knob.
-Hang door.  Plane and sand to fit.
-Paint door.

Other kinds of non-house projects 
-Remake lamp shade for hanging lamp in Mini’s room.
-Remake a play mat and arches for hanging toys?
-Stain and make a busy board for Mini
–Sew dresses for myself; light coat for myself and Mini; dresses, pants, and quilted coats for Mini; a small and queen sized quilt; sew some soft toys; …
-Crochet or knit sweaters, hats, pants, and booties for Mini
-Make a mobile?

Pushed to later:

Master
-Caulk.
-Paint master ceiling.
-Touch up master bath vanity.
-Recoat walls.
-Poperly hang mirror.
-Install tub trim kit and drain.
-Install shower trim kit.
-New switches, outlets, and cover plates.

Storage room (now office)
-Remove stored items from storage/office.
-Rip out carpet and pad.
-Remove panelling.
-Patch and caulk.
-Prime.
-Brush paint.
-Roll walls.
-Paint sewer pipe with hammered finish.
-Paint ceiling.
-Change light fixtures.
-Change outlets and cover plates.
-Frame the two cinderblock walls
-Install foam insulation panels
-Drywall or panelling…
-Prime and paint newly insulated walls

Media room
-Get rid of giant speakers and console.
-Mount TV and sound bar.
-Rip out crappy laminate.
-Remove trim.
-Install DryCore.
-Lay insulating underlayment.
-Install vinyl planks.
-Reinstall trim.
-Paint touchups.  (I did re-paint a lot but need to finish since I ended up using a new gallon that doesn’t match perfectly.)
-Arrange furniture.
-Paint or replace stained ceiling tile.  (or ideally change to 2×2′)

A Mobile for Baby

Today I was supposed to work on the rocking chair.  (It has been stripped another time, sanded, and dragged up into the house.)  I was going to tear off more upholstery, sand a little again, stain, and clear coat it, but I guess that isn’t what I really felt like doing with the day after all.  Instead I spent the entire afternoon making a mobile!  I really didn’t expect it to take so long.

finished baby mobile

IMG_5197

The other day I spent far too much time in the craft store selecting items that might make a nice and somewhat eye catching dangly thing for the baby to gaze at from her crib.  For months I’d had a vague idea to make a mobile after seeing a few cute ones at Pottery Barn Kids or someplace, but the idea was very hazy.  Googling gave too much inspiration.  I suppose I meant to sew little things our of linen scraps, but in the store I saw sea urchin shells with a hint of purple, and I knew I had to use them.  Then I went to the bead section and chose a bunch of interesting white ceramic and glass beads.  As for the hanger part there were so many directions to go with.  I grabbed a foam wreath form to wrap with strips of pale grey linen, a wire ring for a second tier, and then spotted a galvanised plate that I really liked.  Hmmm.  There were other forms that I decided against or I could have used sticks or driftwood, but I had a feeling that I’d go with the platter.  I just hoped it wouldn’t look odd to have used a plate.   😀

Supplies:

mobile supplies

…and a close-up of the beads:

closeup of bead supplies

I used a ruler, grid, and marker to evenly space marks for punching holes.

Then I spent a long time stringing things onto jute cord.

closeup beads 1

closeup sea urchins and beads

It doesn’t really show, but the strings of beads at the top are a pretty iridescent purple:

top of mobile

IMG_5191

IMG_5205

IMG_5201

A Real Trash or Treasure Situation: Restoring a Mid-century Dresser (Changing Table)

Sometimes beaten up and mistreated furniture just cannot be saved, but sometimes a piece that looks almost certainly like trash can become a treasure with hard work and luck.  When I brought home the dresser, that I hoped to make into a changing table and storage for Mini, it did not look promising.  At all.

As I’ve written about before, I’d been keen to use this old dresser for Mini.  It was in the guest room of our house when I was growing up, and it was one of the only pieces of family furniture that I ever liked at all.  I took it to my first adult apartment and refinished it, but later I didn’t have a space for it, so it went into storage at the farm.  Then it was kept in a damp basement for several years and was nearly destroyed.  I still can hardly believe that I’ve managed to save it!

rescued midcentury dresser changing table

That is the dresser topper that I scored at the Restoration Hardware outlet for $20.  It was really a lucky find for the price and that it fits so well.  I hadn’t planned on using a topper, but it finishes the look and seems useful.

Here is the dresser when I picked it up from my Father’s basement:

trash or treasure dresser at dad's.jpg

He had it airing outside in the heat for a day or two, but it was still warped and mouldy.  It was a sad sight, but I thought it looked salvageable.  Maybe.  We don’t have a very good vehicle for transporting treasures, so my mother was kind enough to drive me home with the dresser.  We’d planned it in advance, so I decided to go ahead and take it home figuring I could set it out for trash there if it turned into a disaster.

Soon I set about trying to clean it up and get it ready for repairs and staining or painting. Veneer was warped, separated, bubbling, and broken.   It was covered with mould inside, and the chipboard back was beyond gross from moisture and mould.  All the drawers were a bit stuck, but a few did not open or close at all.  Check out some of the mould…

IMG_3078

Photos did not adequately capture how bad the condition was, I think, and after really taking a look I was discouraged.  At that point I decided to slather every surface with Citristrip and wash every nook.  I’d deal with the effects of more water later, but I had to do something to clean it.  Also, I tore off the back having deemed it too nasty to save.

It looks pretty decent in the photos, but it dried a complete mess.  I was even more discouraged by now, and L suggested we toss it and buy something.  However, I’d already done a lot of work and hated to spend a few hundred dollars for a similar dresser off Craigslist.  Then I’d have to figure out a rental truck or something and go through the stripping ordeal again.  (None of my searches produced anything available less than an hour or two away, and everything was a few hundred dollars.  Bleh.)  So, we carried it upstairs where I could continue work where it was clean and dry.

Thus began days and days of gluing.  I have a handful of clamps and some scrap wood to hold things tight while drying, and I had to keep doing bit by bit.  Besides, one can only glue certain portions at a time anyway.  Every day I’d glue some section as soon as I woke up, and I’d do another round or two by the end of the day.  Some parts only required a squirt of glue and clamping overnight.  For the thinner veneer I had to use a pin to squeeze glue into the layers.  The two bottom drawers practically disintegrated, and I had to carefully rebuild the plywood itself!

Some week or two later I finally was done glueing.

The original handles are pretty cool, I think, and they cleaned up fairly nicely.  I waxed them to prevent any more corrosion.  Usually I avoid brass/gold toned metals, but this should go perfectly with some little stamped brass covered tables that I have already.

midcentury dresser handles.jpg

During the glueing process I had also been painstakingly sanding the drawers and rails so that they would slide smoothly and open properly.  I nearly replaced the rails with drawer slides, but I didn’t want to deal with installing them or spend the money either.  Luckily sanding and planing made a huge difference, and I am glad to have the original mechanism.  It sure was a pain, but it helped that my sanding block fit perfectly in the groove on the drawers!

Next I nailed on a new back and filled in the missing portions of veneer with stainable wood filler.  I had hoped to use stain and not resort to painting, and by now I thought that the veneer looked decent enough to.IMG_3128.jpg

All ready for stain.  You can see that one entire veneer strip was gone:

IMG_4106.jpg

Choosing the stain was a tough decision.  On the one hand I wanted a nice light pickled oak whitewash sort of look or especially classic grey, but I wasn’t sure the condition was suitable or how well I could get it to turn out.  L prefers a really dark finish on furniture, so I considered ebony stain or doing a wax and stain treatment like our dining and coffee tables which are meant to look sort of Restoration Hardware.  At the store I also saw neat colourful options, but I was too afraid of adding yet another colour to the room yet.  (I’m full of regret about the purple-pink walls.)  Carbon grey looked nice and became a contender too.

I agonised over the choice in the store and at home.  L voted for the carbon grey, so I tried it out, and also the ebony, on hidden areas.  The wood inside of the dresser was different, but I could see that ebony was not at all forgiving of any variations in tone.  I suppose classic grey would have had the same limitation, and I went ahead with the carbon grey once L saw a photo and loved it.  All along I had reservations, and even with it complete and looking good I still wish, just a little, that I might have chosen another finish.  I do like it very much, but there is always the thought of what could have been if I went in a different design direction, you know?

All stained, including the hidden parts of drawers!

And clear coated with polycrylic:

L absolutely loves it and is nearly in disbelief that I made this happen with such a piece of junk.  I’m quite pleased with it also.  Yesterday I stripped the lacquer off of the rocking chair, and I’m pretty sure I’ll use the same carbon grey stain for it.  The only reason I might not is if the fabric doesn’t go well with it, but even then I’m more likely to get new fabric.  The wood of the frame will not cooperate with the wax/stain Restoration Hardware inspired treatment, but carbon grey will work very well and match the dresser.  Anyway, that is the next project calling my name even though I should really be doing trim paint and a few other things first instead.  Yet I’ve begun to work on it to take advantage of the creative energy, because I’ve been feeling very tired and not motivated lately.  Then today I was up at 6:30, so I mowed the lawn and removed the storm windows from Mini’s room in order to repair them and the windows.  I’ll replace the screens and paint this week, and I already scraped and glazed one of the three windows before it became too hot this morning.

I didn’t think to take a before of the storm windows and their metal screens, but here is a shot that shows them well enough.  You may see a difference compared to the smaller window to the right, because I took it apart last fall to replace the screen with modern stuff.  It is less noticeable and looks far nicer in my opinion, but I wish I could have made the metal frame look better too.  I did my best with steel wool but it didn’t make much difference.  Perhaps one day we will buy wooden storm windows to replace them or even have the original windows switched out.  I HATE to use modern windows when the old kind look far, far more lively and attractive, and can be made efficient with storms, but the truth is that these were never good quality and aren’t in great shape now.  Maybe we can find replacements that keep the style and upgrade the quality?  I’m sad that a few other windows were replaced with very generic ones by the pervious owners.  It changes the look badly in the front of the house.

Before of the storm windows:

storm windows.jpg

Right after removing the storm windows.  Dirty, but they sure are more attractive without the sturdy and practical metal storms.  I’d leave off the inserts for the summer if I could, but they also provide the screens:

Scraped and looking like complete crap:

scraped and ready to glaze.jpg

Beginning to glaze:

glazing.jpg

Finished glazing one whole window!  Of course it still needs to be cleaned up and painted, but I’d say it has improved already:

glazed but not cleaned or painted.jpg

The glazing went much better than the first windows that I worked on last fall.  Perhaps warmer weather improves the flow of the glazing compound?  It felt like I’d really improved my technique since it went so quickly and easily, but I’m guessing it was really the heat.  😀  In the fall I didn’t quite complete the job, but I think I’ll get to those windows too.


Today I made some changes and updates to my lengthy to-do list, and here it is in case you would like proof of my insanity…

13th of June to-do list:

Front of house
-Patch broken front steps.
-Paint foundation a more pleasing shade.
-Buy new light fixture and install with sensor bulb.
-Last bit of patching.
-Last bit of painting.
-Wash windows (uninstalling and reinstalling storms.  Make screens??)
-Finish glazing windows

Mini’s room
-Brush final trim coat on nursery panelling.
-Remove storm windows
-Disassemble, and replace screens.
-Scrape and glaze: (One,) (two,) (three.)
-Paint exterior windows.
-Reinstall storm/screens.
-Remove security crap from windows.
-Patch.
-Paint windows (interior.)
-Change light switch and cover plate.
-Buy floor lamp.
-Buy and install shades.  Or make some.
-Have crib sandblasted and finished or do clear coat.
-Attach casters to crib.  Create replacement hardware.
-Attach casters to walker and assemble.
-Bring dresser from Dad’s and refinish.
-Sew Kirghiz felted carpet to a dowel for wall-hanging.
-Strip rocking chair.
-Sand rocking chair.
-Stain rocking chair.
-Reupholster rocking chair and sew pillows.
-Fix leaky sink valve.
-Set up furniture, wall art, and organise.

Main living areas and stuff
-Replace certain outlets, switches, and cover plates.
-Paint dining/living windows.
-Scrape messy paint.
-Finish painting kitchen trim and panelling
-Repaint living/dining ceiling.
-Apply sealant on entry and hearth tile/grout.
-Sew back of sofa.
-Staple cambric.
-Sew pillow covers.
-Finish sanding dining chairs.
-Stain and wax chairs.
-Paint and Mod Podge antique travel chest.
-Touch up kitchen chairs and hoosiers.
-Repair coffee table.
-Repair and sand end table.
-Paint to match coffee table.
LATER:
-Reupholster recliner.
-Reaupholster little round chair.

Exterior
-Stain east side of house.
-Stain or hire west side of house.
-Powerwash patios and chairs.
-and paint rusty table with hammered finish.
-Stain patios.
-Permanently attach umbrella to deck with bolts.
-Powerwash fence.
-Stain fence.

Unfinished part of basement
-Finish painting walls.
-Rewaterproof spot on floor.
-Touch up floor paint.

Organisation
-Organise storage area.
-Organise basement.
-Organise Garage.
-Organise attic.
-Organise kitchen.
-Organise sewing room.
-Organise baby items in closet.
-Organise master closet.

-Have yard sale.

Dressing room and spiral stairwell
-Touch up ceiling paint.
-Shift PAX and MALM to left.
-Patch.
-Brush edges.
-Roll walls.
-Paint trim.

Sewing room
-Remove sewing room door.
-Mark and chisel hinge mortises.
-Mark and drill door knob.  -Install knob.
-Hang door.
-Paint door.

Other kinds of non-house projects 
-Remake lamp shade for hanging lamp in Mini’s room.
-Remake a play mat and arches for hanging toys
-Stain and make a busy board for Mini
-Sew dresses for myself; light coat for myself and Mini; dresses, pants, and quilted coats for Mini; a small quilt; sew some soft toys; …
-Crochet or knit sweaters, hats, pants, and booties for Mini
-Make a mobile?

Pushed to later:

Master
-Caulk.
-Paint master ceiling.
-Touch up master bath vanity.
-Recoat walls.
-Poperly hang mirror.
-Install tub trim kit and drain.
-Install shower trim kit.
-New switches, outlets, and cover plates.

Storage room (now office)
-Remove stored items from storage/office.
-Rip out carpet and pad.
-Remove panelling.
-Patch and caulk.
-Prime.
-Brush paint.
-Roll walls.
-Paint sewer pipe with hammered finish.
-Paint ceiling.
-Change light fixtures.
-Change outlets and cover plates.
-Frame the two cinderblock walls
-Install foam insulation panels
-Drywall or panelling…
-Prime and paint newly insulated walls

Media room
-Get rid of giant speakers and console.
-Mount TV and sound bar.
-Rip out crappy laminate.
-Remove trim.
-Install DryCore.
-Lay insulating underlayment.
-Install vinyl planks.
-Reinstall trim.
-Paint touchups.  (I did re-paint a lot but need to finish since I ended up using a new gallon that doesn’t match perfectly.)
-Arrange furniture.
-Paint or replace stained ceiling tile.  (or ideally change to 2×2′)