Putting the fun into furniture
How it all began
So, in a fit of annoyance a few months ago, I whipped the apple patterned oilcloth off my kitchen table, glared at the large, circular, black watermark that’s been there since a party we had nearly five years ago, and reached for the power tools.
Ever since that party, I’ve planned to sand and re-finish the table. The watermark made me realise that a waxed table top, while attractive, is basically useless. And we had a tin of danish oil sitting in the cupboard where all the DIY equipment goes to die, left unopened from another unstarted project involving an oak beam and the top of our fireplace…
As you can see, none of my projects so far involve any upcycled kids’ furniture. We’ll get to that.
So, I sanded the table down. It took ages, even with an electric sander. Wax does not like sandpaper. Or maybe sandpaper doesn’t like wax. Anyway.
It was raining, so I did it inside. Not doing that again – we were wiping wood dust off everything in the kitchen (including my little boy’s train set) for weeks.
And then I covered it up and went to bed.
Some weeks later, I uncovered it, and found that some of the wax dust had re-adhered itself to the table. So I sanded it again. And then I gave it three coats of danish oil, each coat six hours apart, like it said on the tin. I washed out the cloth before binning it, so that it wouldn’t set the house on fire.
And now we use the table.
My son spills drinks, drips food, sloshes milk – it all wipes up. Hot coffee (cups of, and spills of) – no problem. Moisture beads on the surface and smooths away, and there are no water marks. Nothing. Danish oil is amazing.
And no more oilcloth. Just bare, beautiful wood.
As the weather was warming up back in June, I started clearing out my son’s cupboard. His clothes didn’t really fit in it any more so I was searching on eBay for a new one. And after how well the table worked out, I didn’t want a new one.
The chest of six drawers I found for £20 was in Liverpool, and it was knackered. Totally worn out – scratched, patchy varnish semi-covered its surface, its wooden handles were split and it looked rubbish.
Obviously I bought it immediately.
As soon as I got it home, I plugged the sander into an extension lead and started sanding it down on the garden path, determined that it wasn’t coming inside until it was done. That was a loooong evening. And the next day, and the day after that.
Waxing it was faster. A couple of coats of rustic pine wax and ta-dah! Lovely new chest of drawers. I bought some beautiful drawer handles, perfect for my two year old’s bedroom, from a brilliant eBay shop and he loves it!
I still don’t have room for all his clothes though. The boy has way more clothes than his mummy.
Well, then my husband came home with a couple of little wooden toddler desk chairs he’d saved from the tip. And I thought – cute. But dull.
(This is where my upcycling gets a bit more creative)
So I thought I’d experiment a little with one of them. I’ve read about decoupage, and I thought it sounded fun. I unscrewed the planks that made up the seat of the chair, sanded them lightly and put them to one side. Then I sanded the whole chair back to bare wood. I waxed the chair a lovely dark shade (tudor oak), and put it up on top of the wardrobe out of the way.
I decided a Paddington Bear decoupaged chair seat would look cute, so I bought an old Paddington picture book on eBay (yes, eBay is where all of our money goes) and some PVA glue from a craft shop. And I had a very happy afternoon cutting and tearing and sticking and layering. Upcycled kids’ furniture, here I come!
Then I panicked. Because everyone on the internet says you need to seal decoupage. But they’re divided on what you should seal it with. And I was really happy with my little Paddington Chair, and I didn’t want to cover it with the wrong kind of varnish and make a big mess.
I am not joking when I say that it was about two months later that I finally bought some varnish. Bog standard clear gloss stuff, from a DIY shop. Cheap. I decided to just take the plunge, and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on sealing something that basically cost me nothing to make. Even though I’d invested all that time….
I’ve put about fifteen coats of varnish on it now. It looks great.
And I’ve made it a little tag: “Please look after this chair”.
It’s for sale now. On eBay (obviously). Maybe you’d like to give a good home to a lovely little Paddington Chair? (check it out here)