Tuesday, August 3, 2010

DIY = Damn Irritating Yo!

This is one of those posts where I veer off into home decor land.

I have sisters (and a mother) that appreciate this stuff too. We e-mail back and forth asking for each others' opinions on possible purchases, how we should arrange our new gallery wall of frames, what color we should paint and sometimes just fun links we come across.

The other day when my sister casually mentioned she lime waxed her table, I said "Whoa...that sounds serious..let me see some pics", not really knowing what lime waxing a table entailed. Wax just sounds hard to deal with.

She was going for the ever-so-hot gray 'washed' look on her console table, replacing the all-too-familiar (and a bit tired) cherry stain.

She liked these tables from Clayton Gray Home, but didn't want to fork over $2.5 thou.


It's an 'in' look. Go to RestorationHardware.com and see for yourself. They are exploding with gray and worn, washed looking furni.

Even wicker is not immune...Joni (queen blogger of home design and Houstonian) has deemed all wicker other than gray washed "granny", in a fun, light-hearted way of course.

Via Cote de Texas

My favorite house in a magazine from this past year, which I posted about here, has got the look going on:

These all have a bit of a country, relaxed bent to the style, but you can use the gray washed finish in more modern settings too.

Ok, so let me get to the point. After I e-mailed my sister, "Whoa...that sounds serious...let me see!", what I got back was not an 'After image'...it was this hilarious recap of her trials and tribulations with ole Cherry Console. Read for yourself. Anyone who has ever attempted a DIY (do-it-yourself) home makeover will especially appreciate.

It was way more serious than planned. But yes, the Target entry trestle table that I had in college. I was not loving the cherry finish against my light grey walls, it needed a makeover. I wanted to try something other than painting it because then everything would look all DIYed up to the max. Then I saw 'liming wax' used on something in a blog and Amy mentioned it too. The description of liming wax was that it can go over any wooden surface, stained/unstained, finished/unfinished, etc. GREAT! No sanding required! This is like magic!

I go to Lowe's. No dice. I go to Home Depot (where the friendly young paint sales guy is like, really? You're back again? Stop stalking me, you weirdo) and I say, "Do you have liming wax?"

Him: "you want what? yeah, that product doesn't exist." he says in this tone like I'm a crazy obsessive housefrau with too much time on my hands.

me: "yes it does exist, it's made by Briwax, i've seen it online"

him: "okay, well then order it there"

i hate you.

$12.95 in shipping fees and 6 days later...a can the size of a mini coke arrives with the highly sought after substance. this better be enough or I'm going to have a fugly entryway and i'm blaming YOU, Briwax.

I bust my table into the garage, flip that bad boy over, wipe some wax on there expecting it to change like hypercolor before my very eyes and was SO very underwhelmed when NOTHING HAPPENED. okay, so maybe it looked like I had wiped some day old milk into the pores of the table, but there was no whitewash/pickling effect as desired.

FAIL (number one)

I re-read the instructions: "wood may benefit from light scrubbing with a wire brush to open the grain"

SUPER! I'll try again.

Back to home depot to get a wire brush.
Scrub. Scrub. Scrub.
Wax on. Wax off.
Wait for it, wait for it.....


It looked like a miniature bear attacked the back of my table and then a bird shat on it.

FAIL (number two)

Re-read instructions, this time I go to the more elaborate online version. Ohhhh, okay, i should have used a brass brush, not a steel brush, that should fix everything. Back to the depot.

Scrub. Scrub. Scrub. Wax. Wax. Wax.

FAIL (number three)

SERIOUSLY? what did I do to you, table, to make you want to be so uncooperative?

Re-read instructions. No further insight. But at this point, I'm committed. I've already spent $40 in supplies and rearranged my garage. I WILL make this work. I must sand it.

Me: "Jason, what's the best way to sand this?"

Jason: "you can probably do it by hand, it's pretty simple"

Me: "Great, I don't want to buy an electric sander, see you in an hour"

At home depot, pick up the foamy thing with the multiple sanding attachments, certainly this should be enough, 6 sheets. Let's do this!

Sand, sand, sand.

Hate my life.

Sand, sand, sand.

Only a circle the size of my head is fully sanded and it's been an hour. My arm is going to fall off and i've already used up one sheet. Dammmmmmmmit.
I sample the wax on my sanded spot.
The white wax on the now white sanded wood just looks pale, pathetic and cheap.

FAIL (number four)

Re-read instructions, maybe I should stain it before applying the wax, it says that a little color really helps bring out the grain.

Back to home depot.
Me: "I would like this stain, please"
Dude: "that's custom, that will take 20 minutes"

really? i hate ALL of you.

Back home, apply stain on the sanded spot. Now the wood looks like a blueberry. But the wax will lighten it.
No, wax doesn't lighten it, it only makes the blueberry look like it grew mold or has freezer burn.

FAIL (number five)

Okay. At this point it has truly been weeks. I think, the stain is water based, maybe I just water it down to get just that light gray blue tint. But, i'm going to need to sand another sample spot. CRAP, my arms are too buff now and i'm questioning the size of my biceps. But i do it. and it kinda looks okay. (the color, not my arms. those are terrifying.)

ONE more trip back to the depot to get the electric sander. At this point I've already spent close to $100 so what's another $50, and i can use the sander forever. Fine, i give in.

Jason and I spent an entire evening in the garage sanding that mother. Then I had to spend some more hours the next day. How I EVER thought I could do it by hand is a mystery. Not only will I never sand anything by hand, i'm not sure i'll ever use the electric sander again. I'm pretty sure I induced some sort of lung disease and I still have dust particles settled in the nooks of my body.

Three full-size towels destroyed. Every last bit of sanding paper used, I finally get to stain it.


Wax it.

Love it up to the max.

But...here comes fail number six.

I forgot to do the drawer. So I had to redo the process again and make sure the drawer was going to match. Yikes.

But, it's luscious. And I love it. My garage still smells like a$$face and there's stain all over the concrete that I'm fairly sure will never go away. But, I'm done. I hope you enjoyed.

And now, when you see the pictures, you need to tell me it's the awesomest thing you've ever seen in your life because if you don't, I will probably cry.

This is what she started with:
A good buy from Target about 5 or 6 years ago:

And, here it is now: (not styled yet...I didn't give her any time for that.. I demanded a photo ASAP.)



Love how you can see the grain through it:


Didn't she do a great job?! And save herself thousands, even though there was a bit a lot of elbow grease involved. And now she has biceps I would probably covet. We'd like to see a picture of those too, Erin. Danke.

Three cheers for DIYers!


Sneaker Teacher said...

that commentary is SO funny! Loved it! I am so bad at DIY projects and always so impatient to get them done...I never would have lasted until the end of that one!

Lili said...

hilarious! love anything grey anyway....

melissa said...

Erin it looks great and I have a few pieces I would love for you to pick up and do next time you are in town. Carolyn now I need to change all my wicker. You two are putting me to work and I am tired. Don't you ever get to the point where it all looks good and will forever?

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing, I just picked up a piece of furniture that needs to be refinished and was planning to google "how to lime". Thanks! Berta.

paula said...

I know I shouldnt laugh but i did! It looks gorgeous!

Christi Bennett @ pisforparty said...

Hi Carolyn! Thank you so much for sending me the blog, Two Ellie! It's gorgeous and I love the circus party. I just might contact the writer and see if I can feature her party. Thanks again!

PS - love this post!

Molly said...

cleva title

Smitten Design said...

awesome. I have been wanting to wax a console and now i hope to skip your sister 1-5 steps and save some frustration along the way.
the table looks fantastic. thanks for sharing.

mrslimestone said...

Im so glad you shared your story. It looks great but this is exactly why I didn't lime wax my old door. After sanding the paint off it, I didn't have the energy to do anything else.

You will so use that sander again so its not at all a waste!

TT said...

Your perseverance paid off! Looks wonderful. What color was the stain that you used? I'd like to try it on a BIG medium-brown stained pine hutch. So I take it I've got to sand off all the finish and then stain it what color? Do you think the same procedure would work on wicker? Thanks.

Unknown said...

I'm doing the same thing to a console table I found by a dumpster. Thanks for the story, I think my plan is to strip it, sand it with medium grain (with a sander ;) ), pre-conditioning the wood, sanding it again, stripping it, then waxing it with black shoe polish.

Did you know shoe polish is the same as wax? Pretty neat.

Unknown said...

My hubby created a gorgeous aromatic cedar desk for me. And although I love the naked look that keeps the aroma of the wood in check, I long for some protection and a way to enrich the grain of the wood, with out putting a carcinogen on it as a "sealer".
So, I am considering this Briwax as a possible substitute for a varnish...is this a reasonable counterfeit for the other "varnishes" abundant, and will it seal aND slightly protect the wood, while leaving a hint of the nat'l scent behind?

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- Carolyn