Monday, June 14, 2010

Distressed Blue Chair

When I drove up to the thrift store a few weeks ago I was stunned to see this great chair sitting outside by the dumpster in the rain! I quickly threw it in the back and then headed inside to see what was so great that they were throwing beautiful things like this away! It was an old chair, dark brown, with 5 fun bars across the top, and I knew I could put it to good use. (It didn't occur to me to get a before picture until after I had already started in on painting the seat, sorry!)


Anyway, I knew exactly where I wanted to use it, as an accent in my light blue kitchen, so I bought a several-shades-darker blue (Tranquil Aqua by Sherwin Williams), and went to work painting it. This was my first time re-finishing a piece of furniture, so I thought I would share a few tips from my trial and error experience.

#1. Sand it first. Don't skip this step, even if you are impatient. If you skip this step and then try to sand the already painted furniture, you will end up just making scratch marks in the paint and it looks terrible. (Sorry no picture, but it looks bad and is really annoying!)

#2. Before you start painting, decide whether or not you want the furniture to be completely painted and lightly aged, or lightly painted and heavily aged. I discovered that it is much easier to put on another light coat of paint if you want more coverage than to sand off paint that was put on too heavily. (It may be easy if you have an electric sander, but I don't.)


I realized this after I had put this heavy coat of paint on the seat. This is when I noticed that the seat was completely flat, and really looked so with this kind of paint job. So I heavily sanded the spots that would be naturally worn if this chair had been used for years: around the edge, the "leg spots," and a bit of a butt spot.



#3. Try the "dry brush" method of painting first. Get a little bit of paint on the end of your brush, dip off the excess onto a paper plate or the paint can lid, and then lightly brush it across the surface of your furniture. If you don't like the look, it is easy to sand off for a more worn look, and it's easy to paint a second coat for more coverage. (Again, that thing about not too much paint in the beginning, have I stressed that enough yet? Can you tell that the sandpaper and I spent a lot of time with this chair?!)


#4. Lightly paint over the details. Leave the cracks and crevices unpainted.


#5. Sand the edges just enough to let the wood show through. Or sand a little more to show a little more of the wood.



You can even make it seem like sanding is fun enough to abandon Sesame Street over.


#6. Apply wood stain liberally.


Be aware that if you use a lot of stain (like this) then it will change the color of the paint in addition to highlighting the exposed wood. I let the stain sit here for just a few seconds before wiping it off, but the places with more exposed wood (like the seat), I let it sit for a few minutes until it really seeped into the wood.


(See the difference between the horizontal post and the back leg of the chair? It changed the blue to a bit of a brownish aqua color.)

#7. Allow to dry completely. Repeat any steps as necessary. Seal as desired.





#8. Experiment with various decor, use as photo prop for flowers, remain undecided about decor and post pictures anyway. :)


Once I had the blue paint on my chair, I realized that I didn't just want a blue accent, but the combination of a lot of dark brown and the blue, which is why I went with the VERY distressed look. But I also wanted to see how just a little bit of distressing would look with the same colors, so I pulled out this cloche I made a few months ago.


I lightly sanded along some of the sharp edges and a bit around the circle to give it some depth. I used a q tip to apply some stain just to the sanded parts and then quickly wiped it off so that it didn't get onto the paint to change the color.


I had been tentatively planning on painting numbers on each of the spokes on the back of the chair, but decided that the very distressed finish was enough detail for now. So I put a 3 on the cloche instead, and I think it was a perfect touch.


Better huh?

This is no Miss Mustard Seed tutorial, in fact, I wish I had read some of her painting tutorials before I dove into this painting project, but I was just so excited about the chair and had the prettiest blue paint already picked out...

I hope you learned a little tidbit if you haven't done any painting like this before and would like to try it out. And for you seasoned painters out there, please let me know what I have missed! This may have been my first furniture painting project, but it certainly won't be my last.

I'm linking to these amazing parties, and the CSI Project!




Kim @ Frost Me! June 14, 2010 at 7:28 AM  

HUGE fan of distressed! Glad it got saved from the garage! It turned out beautiful!

Kim @
party inspiration

Anonymous June 14, 2010 at 8:18 AM  

Absolutely GORGEOUS! i love it - now I'm on the hunt for a ladder back chair - I'll check the dumpsters first!

Atticmag June 14, 2010 at 9:05 AM  

You got a wonderful result on the chair. The finish is super and looks so professional. But that little sander is a gem. Made me smile. Hope you'll have time to stop by and see our kitchen. Jane F.

Corie June 14, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

I think it looks great, ESPECIALLY for your firs time. Brave woman for sanding indoors!

Maria June 14, 2010 at 10:14 AM  

Gorgeous! I can't believe you got it for FREE! I think you should ask your hubby for a mouse sander for christmas - well worth the 30-40 dollars! :) My hands feel burned just seeing how much sanding you did!

jill d June 14, 2010 at 10:27 AM  

I love it!!! What color/brand of blue did you use?

The Autocrat: Haley June 14, 2010 at 10:41 AM  

Love it!! I am dying for a small piece of furniture to paint blue!! Just need to find the right piece at the right price. You did a fabulous job!!

Decorchick! June 14, 2010 at 10:50 AM  

I LOVE your chair!! What color and brand of paint did you use? Love it!!

Tiffany June 14, 2010 at 1:13 PM  

It looks amazing, Erin! LOVE the color! Also, LOVE the very distressed look! My favorite! You did a great job!

Also, the distressed cloche looks terrific and the number was the perfect final touch! : )

Jessabells June 14, 2010 at 2:17 PM  

Love the chair!
I have been waiting for my hubby to sand 2 chairs I paid for and it has been 2 years now.

Jessabells June 14, 2010 at 2:17 PM  

Love the chair!
I have been waiting for my hubby to sand 2 chairs I paid for and it has been 2 years now.

JHill June 14, 2010 at 2:26 PM  

Fantastic tutorial!

Thanks for linking up to the Mad Skills party!

Simply Me... June 14, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

Love it... and I love your blog. Come over and visit won't you!

Rory from Tools Are For Women Too! June 14, 2010 at 6:21 PM  

Nice job! I'm so glad you shared your talent with us on Modern Craftswoman Monday! Rory

JoLynn June 15, 2010 at 12:05 AM  

Cute! Love the color and the distressing!

Amy June 15, 2010 at 7:40 AM  

Great job! I love how your son helped, too!!! I admire your vision for decor!

LaKeta June 15, 2010 at 4:42 PM  

Totally rocked this chair!!! Love the color and all the distressing...the cloche is adorable as well!!!


Stephanie Lynn June 15, 2010 at 9:32 PM  

What a great find. I love the painting and distressing technique - looks fabulous! Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Showcase Party! I greatly appreciate it. Hope you are having a wonderful week! ~ Stephanie Lynn

Robyn June 15, 2010 at 10:19 PM  

Erin, I'm SO glad you rescued that super FUN AND FUNKY chair from it's early demise! It's awesome now! It really is such a unique piece, I LOVE it! Glad I saw the link on keeping it simple !

Van June 16, 2010 at 7:47 AM  

Beautiful craft, the chair has so much character now!

Pati @ A Crafty Escape June 16, 2010 at 6:22 PM  

What a great find, and I love what you did to it!

raggygirlvintage June 17, 2010 at 11:46 AM  

What a fantastic result! You definitely need a mouse sander girl, it's my bestest friend!

Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys June 17, 2010 at 11:52 AM  

Looks gorgeous! what color blue did you use?

Pamela June 17, 2010 at 5:26 PM  

So loving that chair! You did a wonderful job!

Jennifer June 17, 2010 at 10:27 PM  

So pretty! You did a fantastic job!

A 2 Z June 17, 2010 at 11:44 PM  

I'm a new follower and I'm loving your blog! You did a great job on the chair. I love that color! Thanks for sharing.


Maryann @ Domestically-Speaking June 18, 2010 at 12:07 AM  

Love it! Love that your cutie was helping out too.

Katie@LeBeauPaonVictorien June 18, 2010 at 12:12 AM  

Love it! I think you did a wonderful job.....and just think, now you'll be a pro for the next project. :-)
I love ladder-back chairs too....I can't believe it was out by a dumpster!

Дуся-Маруся June 18, 2010 at 7:34 AM  

очень красиво! спасибо

Suzanne June 18, 2010 at 9:26 AM  

Your dumpster dive paid off big time; it looks great!

Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet June 18, 2010 at 10:23 AM  

I had no idea that making something distressed was so easy. It looks awesome! :D

FrouFrouBritches June 18, 2010 at 10:49 AM  

It's gorgeous!!!

Erin A June 18, 2010 at 10:54 AM  

Thanks everyone! And the color is Tranquil Aqua by Sherwin Williams. I can't believe I forgot to put that in the original post! :)

Lanie Ree June 18, 2010 at 11:39 AM  

This looks really, really good. I carefully read your instructions, because I have never painted anything like this before, and I'm thinking about giving my dining chairs a face-lift.

Thank you for participating in the Creative Therapy Session at Life in the Pitts

Lanie Ree June 18, 2010 at 1:54 PM  

Hey, I featured this! Don't pretend like you're surprised :)

Sweet Bee Cottage June 18, 2010 at 3:47 PM  

Wow! I love what you did with this. Great colors!

Megan June 19, 2010 at 9:25 AM  

I always get a bit distressed when I think about attempting to distress something, but you make it look pretty easy. I just might be brave and give it a try!

Anita@GoingALittleCoastal June 19, 2010 at 9:40 AM  

Love the way the chair turned out! I'm into painting blues myself and that is a pretty shade.

Melissa June 27, 2010 at 4:58 PM  

I love this! I am on the look out for a chair like this so I can give it a try!

Mandi July 30, 2010 at 2:01 PM  

I love the way that it turned out! I must sat that I am a bit jealous....:)

Simply Bungalow August 13, 2010 at 9:38 PM  

Love the color. Chair looks beautiful August 14, 2010 at 5:04 PM  

love your chair and your cloche! blue is my favorite color!

Funky Junk Interiors August 15, 2010 at 1:05 AM  

Gorgeous chair! Colour and glaze. And chair! :) What a stunning result!


Sue September 11, 2010 at 9:25 AM  

Love it; beautiful job!


::cottage instincts:: September 11, 2010 at 5:13 PM  

Just making a tute on on my blog about dry brushing. I think it's my new favorite way to paint stuff. This chair is LOVERLY....seriously beautiful.

Would love to have you join my blue/brown link party on the 22nd. :)

Robyn September 12, 2010 at 11:47 AM  

Thank goodness you rescued this FUNKY and FUN little BEAUTY and prettied her all up! I love it! Glad you shared on Funky Junk!

Elizabeth (blue clear sky) October 10, 2010 at 6:10 PM  

Hi, found you from Stories of a House. Your free junkin' chair had great bones to start with, but that gorgeous colour and distressing just put it over the top pretty. Love it.

Sue@Uniquely Chic October 10, 2010 at 10:37 PM  

All I can say is WOW. This chair is so beautiful now. Thanks for all the tips!

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