• The Bearmaker

Project Pine

About twenty years ago, I had saved hard to buy a suite of solid pine bedroom furniture, as did most folk back at the turn of the millenium. It served me well for many a long year, it was sturdy and functional but inevitably, ceased to be 'on trend', as is the way of such things. Not that I'm in the least bit 'fashionista', but I did eventually tire of looking at the orangey tone my furniture had taken on over the years. So to project pine! After convincing my husband to decorate the bedroom first, I decided I would take the plunge, buy some chalk paint and wax and try to turn my trusty ol' furniture, into something I could once again enjoy.

I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in 'pure white' and started with the bedside cabinets. I made the mistake of not priming the wood (according to the tin, you don't need to prime or sand) but orange pine kept showing through the paint, so first lesson was quickly learned - if you want to avoid having to paint loads of layers using expensive paint, clean your piece thoroughly, then sand and prime with a Shellac based primer first.

The next thing I learned was that painting the edges and sides of drawers is probably best done with a very thin layer of paint, if at all. I didn't want to see orange pine when I opened the drawers, so painted the sides and inside, only to find they didn't fit the holes when I tried to replace them. I had to sand, sand, sand and sand some more, before the drawers would go back in easily. I certainly won't make that mistake again!

Learning how to wax was initially frustrating. I was delighted with my chalk painted cabinets and thought they would be straightforward to wax ... after all, the YouTube videos made it look a doddle and so it should have been, but once again, I discovered you can't take shortcuts and you need to understand how the medium works. My first mistake was to use the wrong cloth to apply wax; it was meant to be lint free, but mine obviously wasn't as pristine as it needed to be and dropped all kinds of debris into my wax finish. The only thing for it, was to sand the wax back again until it looked clean ... and find a new cloth to buff with.

My second mistake was to be too generous with the wax, you really do only need a tiny smear of wax on the tip of a cloth, brush (or in my case, fingers!) to work in small circular movements over the paintwork. I tried using a proper Annie Sloan wax brush but soon became annoyed when it dropped bristles during the waxing process, so I switched to a cloth, which as I have already mentioned, also didn't go well. Determined not to be foiled at the last hurdle, I sanded back with a medium grade sanding block and used my fingers and palms to work wax into the paint, then buffed with a newly purchased lint free car polishing cloth, re-sanding and re-buffing, until I was not just happy with the finish, I was DELIGHTED with the beautiful soft sheen it gave my cabinet! All I needed to finish, was for my husband to fit pretty new ceramic drawer knobs (using a hacksaw to cut the bolts to the correct length)... then hey presto, two gorgeous bedside cabinets finished and ready to have clutter dumped back in the drawers.

I opted to tackle my large chest of drawers next, starting by removing the drawer knobs and giving it a clean and light sand, then priming with Zinsser cover stain primer, remembering not to do the sides of the drawers this time!

It was hard work, but I thoroughly enjoyed painting this piece. I gave it one coat of primer, waited a couple of hours, then painted three coats of chalk paint, lightly sanding each before applying the next. The chalk paint dries quickly, so by the time I'd finished painting the first coat, I was able to start at the beginning again with a second. Still not able to come to terms with seeing orange pine when opening the drawers, I painted one very thin layer of chalk paint on the sides of the drawers. They still needed sanding to fit comfortably back into the cabinet (as did the cabinet frame) but as I wanted a a slightly distressed finish, that was all part of the process and it looked great when finished! Now the drawers slide in and out happily. The waxing process was much more straightforward this time, I used my fingers to apply the wax in small areas, buffed, sanded and buffed some more, until the soft sheen I wanted began to emerge. I left it to cure overnight, then buffed again before placing my perfume bottles back on the top. It has given a lovely durable finish and if it ever marks accidentally with use, I will simply re-sand, re-wax and buff again.

I used to have a large swing dresser mirror on top of my chest of drawers, but fancied a change, so hunted around until I located a supplier of beautiful vintage mirrors. I fell in love with a pretty 1950's bevelled edge hanging mirror and couldn't be more thrilled with this little nod to nostalgia now hanging in place.

Four days later and et voila! My four + two drawer chest is now completed and as you can see, a complete transformation. I am over the moon with the result!

That is not the end Project Pine though as there is yet more work to be done! I still have a large wardrobe and three + two drawer chest glaring orange at me, patiently awaiting their turn.

This project is proving to be a real labour of love, but I must admit, I am finding it immensely satisfying and am so glad I decided to give renovating my old pine furniture a try. If you are wondering whether you can do likewise, I'd say go for it ... if I can do this, believe me, anyone can!

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© All Bear by Paula Carter 2020

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All Bear by Paula

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