Thursday 1 August 2013

Upcycling again

We have needed some drawer space downstairs for quite a while now - say, the five years since we moved in - for all the of the shoes and hats and nappies and small things that can't be easily corralled on our open shelves. A nice high surface for my spinning wheel out of the way of pingling hands wouldn't have gone amiss either. Trawling local eBay listings and secondhand furniture shops, for all the other awesome pieces it brought us, had failed to turn up a sturdy chest of drawers of  suitable size and price.

And then, it came to us, the perfect chest. We salvaged it from a house refurbishment around the corner in return for a few bottles of home brew beer. It pays to be plucky when you see a piece of furniture sat forlornly in a front yard. It would fit this gap perfectly if not for a plug socket in the way and it has been stood up on overly tall temporary blocks until a more stable solution could be found. Also, that pink colour? Not our thing at all. As you can see, darling daughter tried to spruce it up a bit using her newly found mad crayon skills, but to no avail. Still, it has held our shoes and hats and suncream and spinning wheel admirably well, which was perfect enough after years of no storage. 

After months of procrastination, however, I finally reached the limits of my tolerance for  the unwipable dingy pink surface this week. It had to go.

I didn't choose the new colour (B&Q matt emulsion in Pacific) and I was rather skeptical of my man's choice that it was going to turn out well. I made my own chalk paint using 1 part Plaster of Paris to 3 parts emulsion, with a little water to thin. The advantage of mixing Plaster of Paris into the paint is that most surfaces will not need to be primed or sanded, the paint sticks very nicely to existing layers of paint. It also goes a long way - I have two litres of unmixed turquoise blue emulsion to use up.

Of course, the whole project took much longer than the two days I had budgeted for, to the point I seriously considered it may be easier to learn to love a half blue/half THAT pink, handle-less chest of drawers than to actually continue.  The original wooden handles were of a bizarre, half jointed, half screwed construction that resulted in some unforeseen sawing, gluing, filling and drilling. I built up three coats of paint instead of the expected two thanks to a few greasy toddler hand prints from an ill timed lunchtime interlude. The third coat was sealed the moment it was dry with quick drying matt varnish whilst said toddler was asleep; and another coat of the varnish has left a tough, wipeable surface.

Whilst I liked the colour, I still wasn't entirely sold on the new look until the new pewter handles were installed. Then, it was perfection. I just need to make some shorter, sturdier furniture blocks to raise it up a couple of inches over that annoyingly placed plug socket and I can say that it is done. And totally worth all the blood (yep), sweat (in this weather, yes) and tears (/swearing).


  1. Well, you learn something every day. I had no idea you could make your own chalk paint. Looks lovely. Electric sockets always seem to be in the wrong place don't they.

  2. I hadn't heard of homemade chalk paint either. I like the idea of no priming or sanding - those are the bits that put me off from even starting! I agree with you about the pewter handles, they really set the colour off, well done :-)