Often times, when I buy a new piece to makeover, I like to give myself time to daydream about it until “THE idea” comes to me. This is usually about the time I am bundled up in my bed with my blankie wrapped around my head and saying my nightly prayers. I can tell you, when you have a creative bug, there is nothing more distracting then when an idea pops into your head and I often find myself in the midst of talking to God about all the things that matter in my life, when…. “OH MY GOSH, I could totally turn that armoire into a desk!” comes barreling through. And once the idea is implanted in my head, it is hard to remove and I often have to end my prayers with something like, “oh, and I’m sorry I keep thinking about that dresser.” But I have to remind myself that God gave me the creative bug in the first place, so I hope he understands.
So that is how it was with this fairly dated, hotel style, oversized tv cabinet that I had yet to own. It was at an upcoming auction and I already knew it would be mine. Fast forward a week or so, and it was (for a reasonable price I might add), and it was even bigger and more hotel style then I ever imagined. But I knew what was going down with this piece, and I was excited!
So here’s my plan. I was going to cut off the top, I know, some of you are cringing, but this vision came to me, mid-prayer, so it must have been important. So just go with it. Ok, so remove the top entirely, keeping the hardware of course, because it’s fabulous. Paint the dresser using Amy Howard’s High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Belgium Blue. We are talking a high gloss, super strong , durable, gorgeous finish. Then I’m going to add a long metal top, maybe an aged zinc finish, and some cute metal legs from the pile of legs I have in my basement. It is going to be so cool.
So, of course, this was in the middle of winter, and painting with that lacquer was not something I can do indoors without killing my family’s brain cells fume-style, so I held my ideas close to my heart, and waited and waited, as a good Minnesota girl often has to do.
But then there was a break, March 12 was the day, and it was mid 60’s, so I got out my wood filler, and sandpaper and my paint, and I went to work on the first drawer. Here’s what I did.
- Fill any major scratches, holes and dents. This is especially important for a high gloss paint because it is way less forgiving.
- Once dry, sand the spots you filled using whatever grit you are comfortable with. I used 220 to make it go faster.
- Sand the whole piece with 400 grit sandpaper.
- Clean thoroughly using a degreaser and a lint free rag.
- Remove any trace of the degreaser with a damp lint free rag.
- Tape off any areas you don’t want painted.
- Spray with Amy Howard Primer using a sweeping motion, just as if you were using a paint brush. (more on this later)
- Let primer dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Sand with 400 grit sandpaper and remove dust.
Note: the primer is meant to go with the lacquer, and is especially important for filling wood grain, if your piece has a heavy wood grain texture, you may want to do several coats of the primer to get a smooth, glass like finish.
- Now the paint. With my drawer face facing the sky, I first painted all of the vertical edges of the piece, using a fairly quick, clean sweep. Then (and this is the most important part for this paint) I started at the corners closest to myself and started to sweep, back and forth very intentionally and carefully going slightly past the piece on both sides. (the reason you start closest to you is to avoid overspray, which will make your finish blotchy and less glossy in some areas.
11. Once dry, sand lightly with 400 grit sandpaper, and do a second coat using the same method.
12. For extra protection, top painted finish with Amy Howard Bright Idea using the same technique.
So over that next week or two, I finished all of the drawers and the body of the dresser/desk. The main thing you need to think about with this product is to avoid overspray. Always keep that in mind.
Next comes the top. I wanted to do something different then a plain wood top, so I thought it would be neat to try a metal top with an aged zinc finish. Finding the sheet metal was more of an undertaking than I had thought, but thankfully, my husband used his contractor wiles to get me a sheet of 4X10 foot sheet metal, 26 gauge. The goal was to wrap a piece of 3/4 inch thick plywood that I had cut to size with the sheet metal.
Now, I am leaving out the metal bending part for a reason. For those of you who want to duplicate this look, you either need to own a break, (and if you own a break, you already know how to bend metal) or you need to have a metal worker bend it for you. From what I have read, this can cost around $100 or more. Thankfully, my wonderful husband used breaks for many years, and also had access to one. So he bent up the corners for me so I could wrap the plywood.
Now for the top. The metal was very shiny, scratched and etched in areas, but that’s no problem, it just adds to the look I wanted. I used a strong de-greaser, followed by a rinse of tap water and let dry. Then I got out my oxidizing product. I used Amy Howard Zinc Antiquing Solution.
This process was so easy! Wearing gloves, I poured out the zinc solution in a glass bowl and started blotting it on, very liberally at first. You will notice the oxidizing starts immediately. Once it is covered completely, you’ll see that the metal will resist it in some areas. What Amy Howard recommends is rubbing the product in, in a circular motion using mild pressure. Do this for 15 minutes. Then blot again, making sure to make your blots random so you don’t have a detectable pattern. Let dry about 60 minutes or more. Dry time is important.
Once the top had dried for at least an hour, I used my wax brush and brushed on clear wax in a circular pattern, waited 10 minutes, and buffed it. I used Amy Howard’s Clear Wax. Note that most waxes are not food safe, so be smart. Use a plate.
With any waxed surface you will want to periodically re-wax using the same method. And please keep in mind that this metal will scratch. I think this just adds to the look. However, if you get so many scratches and want to re-age the piece. Remove the wax with mineral spirits, and re-apply the Zinc solution as I did above. Then re-wax. No, it will not remove the scratches, but it will blend them into the patina, by making them dark.
Once the top was finished and waxed, we made a skirt for the desk part, to make it look more desky, and also to cover the hardware for the legs. Then we attached our top to our dresser, added the legs, and Voila…. something totally unique and trendy!
I can’t say enough about how much I love this finish. The photos just don’t do it justice. Amy Howard products are available at Ace Hardware, and this lacquer is worth checking out. The end product is so smooth I have a strange desire to lick it. (But don’t worry, I haven’t…. yet.) This awesome desk will be at Eco Chic’s Design Conference on April 23rd at the Scheel’s Arena. (yep, that’s this weekend) There are still tickets available and it is going to be a super fun show. I hope to see you all there!
ps. that extremely cool glo-dial advertising neon clock is available as well, that is, if you can pry it from my husband’s cold dead hands.
Thanks for reading!