Thursday, July 10, 2014

When the Mice are Away

 For the first couple of days this week (while the kiddos have been at Farm Camp), I didn't do a whole lot. On Monday, I sat around, listening to the silence for a while. Then I watched some Netflix and vegged. On Tuesday, I drove to DEQ to get my car emissions tested, and then I met Amy for lunch. I went to the grocery store BY MYSELF. Stuff like that. But on Wednesday, I decided to tackle a project I've been thinking about and approaching with the side-eye for a while : my kitchen chairs.

We have a nice, wooden dining set that James and I bought when the J-bird was teeny tiny. I have no intention of getting rid of it. It fits the space well, but it has taken a right beating over the last six or seven years. Babies have poked at the table with forks and gnawed on the backs of the chairs with brand new teeth (those little teeth marks will be staying, btw). I don't mind it looking a little bit beat-up, but the finish has never been quite right, so I figured I'd need to refinish eventually. And then, there are the chairs. The seats of the chairs had these awful scratches on them. I couldn't figure out where they were coming from (we've since narrowed it down to a particular pair of James's jeans, but have you ever noticed how most jeans have rivets or buttons on the seat? Yeah. Chair scratchers.), but the seats were deeply gouged and just looked awful. I knew I needed to sand them down and re-stain them, but, because you know I can't leave anything plain, I decided to go fancy, using a modified version of this technique I found on a blog called Domestic Imperfection.

While I had the seat of each chair sanded, I painted a design on, using off-white paint (from the baseboards and trim in my house. Yeah. That's not super fancy. Sorry.) I looked on the internet for inspiration pictures, usually of stencils, since these were going to be single color silhouettes. I elaborated on the inspiration pictures to get what I wanted. I thought about trying to cut stencils, but I decided that'd be too much trouble and went with painting directly on the seats instead. I painted each chair with a different design, using very small brushes, mostly, and scratching out some tiny details with a toothpick. Painting each design took about an hour and a half to two hours. Here's how a couple of them looked, once painted:

After the paint dried, I applied stain over the whole seat, including over the top of the paint. This darkened the paint slightly and made it more wood-tone. Each chair seat got two coats of stain and then two coats of polyurethane. Most of our jeans will be getting pliers taken to the backsides. No more rivets and snaps to scratch up my lovely chairs!

Here's how they turned out:

The kids are laying claim to their favorites, but James tried to override the J-bird's choice and claim the octopus for himself, using Daddy Privilege. They may have to duke that one out. The J-bird also expressed some slight disappointment that there was no dinosaur chair.

Sorry, kiddo. Maybe on the table top...


Anonymous said...

That is absolutely MARVELOUS Geneva!! Did you seriously get that done in one day lol?! Mad talented girlfriend! I could do this but it would take me a week to troll ideas first, well because I love choice and sometimes get a little delirious by that glee.

One day you should try grocery shopping without kids but WITH girlfriends. Awesome taken to a whole new level.

~Jenn Scott

Geneva said...

Haha! Grocery shopping with girlfriends does sound like fun.

As for accomplishing all the chairs in one day, ALAS, no. It took me two days to paint them all. There was a time when I would've worked straight through and finished them all in one day, but that was before I had to attend to the needs of small living beings that require food and attention and baths and bedtimes. Because said demanding beings were in Farm Camp, I was able to totally focus during the hours that they were gone and get the chairs done in just two days. :)

I'm so glad you like the chairs! I'm really thrilled with how they came out. I DID end up investing in some super-duper (supposedly) scratch resistant polyurethane, and each chair got three coats. We'll see how it lasts.